I don’t have cable. I am apparently one of the few that missed Megyn Kelly’s discussion on Fox News recently in which she claimed “Jesus was a white man.” and that this is a “verifiable fact.” Now let me start this by saying that Megyn Kelly is wrong. There are no pictures of Jesus. Most historical scholars would argue that Jewish people in the time of Jesus’ birth were not white.
And yet it is not Megyn Kelly’s lack of understanding on this that has got me reflecting today but rather the response many have had to it. I have been considering the many links I have seen today of “modern sketches of Jesus” that are trying to capture what he “really” looked like historically or the article in the Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/insisting-jesus-was-white-is-bad-history-and-bad-theology/282310/) which cautions that we should not trust popular images of Christ and quotes Martin Luther King Jr. arguing that “the color of Jesus’ skin is of little or no consequence.”
And while I don’t agree with Kelly I am not sure I agree with some of the reaction either. I actually think the color of Jesus’ skin is of INCREDIBLE consequence- but not whatever it’s color was historically.
Here at Christmas time, Christians all over the world take time reflecting on the amazing miracle of the incarnation. The incarnation reminds us of the greatness of the love and kindness of a God who was willing to put on human skin for us. The fact that God would make himself more like us, would want to join us in this world, would want to become more relate-able to us is frankly awe-inspiring.
We live in a world that is not color blind. Our skin color and where we come from is an important part of our identities. Rather than spend an enormous amount of time searching for the “historical” Jesus and his true skin tone, Christmas is the time of the year to embrace a God who is willing to look like us and be with us. Let Jesus be white for white people. Let Jesus be black for black people. And let him be all the colors in between too. Doesn’t this way of thinking follow the notion of a God who “emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave, and being born in human likeness.”