What Color was Jesus?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, January 13, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” ~Romans 1:14

When I was a student at Cleveland State University I took a course in Black Religion…or was it African American Religion? Either way, the premise of the class was obvious: culturally speaking, the African American culture contributes to the religious community in a unique way. It was either the first or second day of that class that my professor made the bold assertion that Jesus was probably black. “After all”, he insisted, “even Billy Graham said that Jesus probably had dark skin” (my professor also noted that Reverend Graham was unwilling to make the full-fledged statement that Jesus was black).

What kind of silly, ridiculous, absurd, irrelevant, and uneducated question is this? What color was Jesus? Really? Granted, every ethnicity tends to have artistic portrayals of Jesus in which he takes upon physical characteristics of someone of their own nationality. But when we are honest with ourselves, Jesus was a Jew. This means he was an Israelite of the tribe of Judah. Frankly, most Jews that I know are lighter in complexion, but I have known some that are middle-brown in color as well. But once again, this is such a childish and elitist point to make. Why? For one it implies that Jesus’ race was the superior race and if we are the same race as Jesus, that makes us better than everyone else. But let’s look at the history of the Jewish people, the people from whom Jesus descended.

Historically, the Jews were probably the most persecuted ethnic group of all-time. They have been enslaved, exiled to foreign lands, and have even been the victims of genocide. They have had it rough. Nonetheless, most of the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, which is quite ironic because people who were in no way related to Jesus ultimately ended up receiving him as their Savior. Acts 17:26 declares that God made all nations of one blood. If you recall my post from last week, I wrote on Jesus’ descent. Luke’s genealogy draws his human lineage back to Adam and divinely to God. Jesus, although he is our God, is our brother. This is because we all descended from Adam, who was a child of God so to speak. We all have a common ancestor in Adam and we are all created in the image of God.

Jesus, being a descendant of Adam, is the savior of all mankind. Reverend Graham’s point in the sermon my professor cited, by the way, was that Christianity was not just a white man’s religion and that Jesus is the savior of all mankind, regardless of skin color. Back in the days when the book of Romans was written, Jews hated people who did not belong to Israel, and the Greeks, Romans, and most other nations hated the Jews. One of Jesus’ most famous parables, the parable of the Good Samaritan, depicts a scenario where a Jew had to depend on the selfless and non-discriminant love of a Samaritan, whom the Jews also hated, to tend to his wounds and bring him to safety. This Samaritan, whom the Jews hated, was what Jesus called a neighbor. In Christ we can put aside these foolish divisions. We are all of one blood and we can all share in one spirit as well, the Spirit of the Living God.

It doesn’t matter how dark or light Jesus’ skin was. He died for all people regardless of skin color or nationality. We need to recognize those around us as brothers and sisters and long for their salvation so that they too might become members of the family of God. Today, there is much racial strife, but we must remember that God has torn down these man made barriers because he created each and every one of us in his image. No longer are we bound by silly “racial” alliances.