[Editor’s note: In light of Megyn Kelly’s controversial statement on Fox that “Jesus was a white man,” we’re reposting this article about a few of the things we often forget when we talk about Jesus]
We know a lot about Jesus, but certain characteristics we tend to forget or ignore, like the fact He was a smelly homeless guy who ticked off a lot of political and religious leaders with His claims to be God. We can’t know Jesus fully unless we realize some commonly known, but often unconsidered facts. Without them, we can’t really know Jesus; we only know about Him. We tend to be ignorant of the history, the deity, the humanity that defined Him.
HE WASN’T WHITE
Jesus was from the line of David. He was an Israeli. He was Jewish. Our Sunday school books and children’s Bibles and the pictures on Grandma Nadine’s wall has painted a beautiful Caucasian western European blonde-haired blue eyed picture for us. But in reality, He was not a European, He was Middle-Eastern. And at that time in history, Jews were some of the most hated people in the world.
HE WAS HOMELESS
Once He started His public ministry, Jesus was a clean-living Jack Kerouac. He lived in spare bedrooms and backyards of whoever would put Him up. He ate handouts, held no job and owned only the clothes on His back. Foxes had holes, birds had nests, and He had nothing. Don’t forget that in His day, they didn’t wear deodorant, they walked in the hot sun everywhere they went. I have no doubt Jesus had dirty feet and sweat stains on his armpits. I wonder what we would think of Him if He walked into our church and started teaching, or knocked on our door asking for a place to sleep and bite to eat …
HE WAS A WALKING CONTROVERSY
Not only did He claim to be God, challenge and question the authorities around Him, but He turned over tables in the temple and told people they would go to a place of weeping and suffering. His people were expecting a Messiah who would lead a revolution against the Romans. Jesus was submissive and even willingly died at the hands of the oppressors. He was a very unpopular guy.
HE HAD ONE BAD POSSE
He didn’t hang with the Rabbi’s kid. He hung with the fishermen (the ones who had mouths like sailors) with the tax collectors (still disliked today) and the party crowd. He was accused of being a drunk (although I personally believe He applied moderation and was found guilty by association).
HE WAS FULLY GOD
He couldn’t claim to be equal with the Father and still be a “good guy” or a “great teacher” or even a “mighty prophet.” That very claim is why He was sentenced to death. Only nutcases claim to be God. And inevitably, their conduct proves they are not. History itself (extra-biblically) says Jesus was a good man. So if He was a good man, then by nature He was truthful, and His claims to be God would have had to been truthful. History also proves He rose from the dead. The thousands of people who followed Him to the death over the decades immediately following His death are proof enough that the 500 eyewitness accounts were credible. People don’t fall for a fable to the point they would become martyrs that quickly to the event itself. Only God could claim to be God and live it in such away that people believed it so devotedly.
HE WAS FULLY MAN
He pooped. He peed. He slept. He ate. He cried. He got angry. His actions pointed to the fact He had physical, emotional and spiritual needs. He needed friends, and was disappointed when they didn’t measure up (when they slept at Gethsemane) He needed food and rest. He wept when Lazarus died. He even questioned God. (“If there is any way that this cup may pass from me.” “O God, why have you forsaken me?”) Amazingly, He left perfection in heaven to be stinky and hungry and achy and lonely and even rejected, and maybe even ugly.
HE IS STILL RISEN
If He rose from the dead 2000 years ago, then He must still be alive and well today. The obvious questions flow forward: How can I meet Him? What is He doing today? What does He want me to do? But the less obvious questions are the ones that we can’t so easily answer: Does He sleep? Where does He live? Is He limited to Heaven? If He’s alive, and all-powerful, why doesn’t He stop all the bad things that happen around Him, and even in His name? What does He look like? Did his scars heal? Did He really descend into hell before He rose from the dead?
HE LOVES YOU
We may have a million questions for Jesus, and many of them we may never get answered. But since He still is alive and kicking, He is still doing what He has always done best: loving you. I don’t claim to fully understand how amazing it is that while we received the verdict, “guilty as charged,” He took the death sentence for us. He took it before the blood was even washed off our hands from the crime we committed. There is no one on this earth with whom I would make such a trade. I am so quick to point out when I experience injustice, and when I have to suffer for someone else’s mistake, but He accepted my consequences willingly. Wow. That’s love.