A question for all my white, conservative, evangelical friends: Have you ever walked into a black church and seen a painting or picture of a black Jesus? How did it make you feel? If you felt any awkwardness or discomfort or thought to yourself (or said out laid) “What is this?” This short blog-post is for you.
What color was Jesus and why does it matter?
In preparation for my Sunday before Christmas sermon I did some research on the earliest paintings (or drawings) we have of Jesus and the Holy Family. Here is a simple truth: The earliest paintings and drawings of Jesus and the Holy Family show him, and them, being very dark to brown. NOT ONE SINGLE PAINTING BEFORE THE RENAISSANCE SHOWS JESUS OR THE HOLY FAMILY BEING WHITE! Not a single one. Here are few of those paintings. All of them are dated between 100 and 300 A.D.
Now, here is a picture of the Holy Family during the Renaissance.
Here are pictures of two of the Nativity Scene I have in my office.
Finally, here is a picture someone sent me that I found funny, but not in a humorous way.
Now, here is the question: Why did the Holy Family change their color and ethnicity?
I have my suspicions as to why?
Now the BIG QUESTION: Why does this matter?
It matters because of representation!
It matters because truth is truth; and the truth is, Jesus was black or brown, not white.
It matters because we have made Jesus, and the Holy Family, into something they are not, and if anyone shows them differently, it makes us uncomfortable.
It matters because the greatest threat we have in our churches today is White Christian Nationalism. And maybe, just maybe, it started in the 1300s when we changed the color of Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, the best way to get rid of the cancer of White Christian Nationalism is to get rid of all our pictures of Jesus that make Him look more European than Palestinian.
If it doesn’t matter, then replace all your nativity scenes with a black Jesus.
Just came across your blog and really impressed with a couple of articles read. I also spent sometime trying to find out if you were black or white. Does it really matter one may ask? Personally, it does to me. I have always believed the word of God that we are one. However, the church has shown me differently. Slavery was more prevalent in the US Southern states and they claimed to be predominantly christians. Also, the evangelical support of Trump was very revealing. I am also aware that interracial marriage was forbidden in Bob Jones University (a prominent christian) until the start of the century. The list is countless.
God is just and he will never let his children down. Apologies for the ranting. I was so naive to this for a long time and thought we were all one.
Thanks for speaking the truth no matter what race we are. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Thank you for your kind words. For the record, I am white.
Thanks for the confirmation. In my opinion, it gives more credence to your article as it is unbiased. Thank you for writing on such a sensitive subject. God bless