An image is circulating the net depicting a contrast between a white-washed Jesus and a middle-eastern, possibly East Indian-looking Jesus. Under each image, there is a list of items or dogmas that each Internet Jesus supposedly promotes. I believe these images are set up to give our modern technologically advanced and literarily duncified generation a better understanding of the historical Christ whose image and persona have been distorted by a Eurocentric version of the Jewish resurrectionist over time.
Today, I would like to list and better explain and critique these problematic ideas so that there is no confusion or misrepresentation of the Savior revealed in the pages of scripture.
Middle-Eastern Brown Skinned
This is a given, yes, he was born in Bethlehem, Judah, Israel. A middle-eastern man who might have been constantly exposed to sunlight. Not only was he born in an area where people have a bit more pigmentation than their European counterparts and a bit less than their Ethiopian ones, but it is also safe to conclude that Jesus was neither white as we understand the word nor was he black as we understand the word today.
He was middle-eastern. Jewish. Brown-skinned, baby. He was a brown man.
Of course. This does not mean that him being Jewish his followers are to support and follow the sacrificial customs of Judaism. No. He was born a Jew, lived in a Jewish society with Jewish laws and customs, with Jewish religious doctrines and dogmas but his very existence was to display that God superseded traditional borderlines. Christ came to give access to people from all walks of life a way of redemption in Him. That’s why His followers are called Christians, not Judaizers.
Colonized by Rome
This is historically accurate. Jesus was born in Judea, which at the time, was conquered and governed by Rome. Not sure what the author wants to allude to here. This empire was as corrupt as any other so it doesn’t mean we are to petition Christians to be okay with living under immoral institutions but to promote and celebrate moral and lawful ones. Christ does not call for insurrections. Keynote.
Justice Through Restoration
Justice through death, really.
“ For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
We can only be restored once we are righteous and our righteousness only comes through Christ’s expiatory sacrifice on the cross. Outside of Christ, restoration, wholesome and effective, long-lasting restoration, is impossible.
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Killed by Church and State
This is empirically true. Jesus was falsely accused of blasphemy by the Jews and tried by the same under their kangaroo court. This sin, according to Jewish law, requires the individual guilty of such a crime to be punished by death, preferrably, stoning. But because Jews under Roman rule could not put people to death they appealed to the Roman empire and called for an even worse, or in fact, the worst method of execution available for Jesus: crucifixion. This was such a request that even Pilate, the officiating judge on this case, seemed shocked that such death or punishment for that matter, would be required of a man he believed innocent. He did this to avoid a riot.
“Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.” Luke 23:13-25
Friend of Sinners and Outcasts
This is absolutely true. Jesus was often seen hanging out with the most hated people in society. Tax collectors, drunks, prostitutes, and lepers, but not once does the Bible or the gospels state that Jesus was comfortable with their sins. Time and again he tells them:
“Go and sin no more.”
Liberates the Oppressed
Yes. This is absolutely true. Christ is a deliverer, liberator, savior, and redeemer. What we cannot forget is that liberation begins in the soul. Christ’s first advent was for the forgiveness and redemption of the sinner, who, after being saved, could go and preach the same message to others. A society governed by regenerate born-again Christ-loving and serving people will not stand idly by as oppression takes place. It was a difficult task in those days as the Roman Empire subdued and razed any opponent but with time Christians accumulated enough grace from governing bodies to build monasteries, orphanages, hospitals, and communities to help the most destitute and unwanted people in society. They produced laws that would protect human life, no matter how fragile or unwanted. A society forgiven of its sins and sealed with God in its heart go forth and liberate.
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21
Critiques Religious People
Well, we have to define what this means. “Religious People” is so broad. Jesus never defamed religious people because He instituted the Jewish religion. Jesus denounced religious hypocrites. The gospel of Matthew saves an entire chapter just to itemize Jesus’s words against self-righteous clerics who used the faith to demean, oppress, and further enslave its adherents.
Jesus doesn’t critique good faith and religion, He denounced bad religion. There’s a difference and know it, through this nuance dogma, helps us better understand Christ.
Yeah. No. Not really. Just was accused of being an insurrectionist by the Jews but Pontius Pilate rebuffed their claims by stating several times that there was no wrong in the man.
This idea of “subverting empires” is stamped in the mindset of feudal religionists who want nothing more than to destroy physical opponents.
This is antithetical to the person and character of Jesus who went to His death without once lifting a finger. When being arrested he chided his disciples for pulling swords to defend him.
“Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Matthew 26:49-56
Homeless Man and Child Refugee
Correct on both cases.
“Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 9:58
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”
Jesus was the original itinerant minister but compared to our contemporary sort, Jesus was often left with no place to sleep but the outdoors. And he was such an advocate of children that He opted for the most severe punishment on whoever harmed little ones. (Mind you, when Jesus says ‘these little ones’ who stood before him but also there is a double meaning to that terminology. He means not only physical little children but also adults who come to faith in him).
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6
Had Half Siblings
Yes. And I’m not sure what the Internet author alludes to with this. Christ was born of a virgin, the first son to his mother, and later, Joseph and Mary got busy having more kids.
“Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.” Mark 3:31
This does not mean that having half-siblings is bad. Usually, it is a sign of a broken relationship or in Christ’s situation being the fact that He was conceived via a miracle. He never denigrated or mistreated his family. Scripture does not support people chiding and mistreating family members because we are all bound as a family under Christ.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
This one is tricky. Yes, Christ’s mission on earth was to be a sacrifice for the redemption of mankind.
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7
Christ was not a violent man as we understand. He did turn tables over and pulled out a whip to run money changers out of the temple. That was the only case where we see Jesus intimidating corrupt officials out of a sacred place. It does not merit the possibility that our life should surround this particular incident because Christ’s mission was more than just one moment.
What the Bible does allude to is that Christ is a knee-capper. A time will come where He will bring our fallen world and its fallen structures and leaders to a violent end.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
And that at the end of time, everyone who stood in contrast to Christ, refused his sacrifice, will be “tossed” into the place of their proper belonging.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
So there is a difference between man to man violence that is usually done out of hatred, selfishness, narcissism, sexual depravity, envy, pride, and add to the list.
But the violence that Christ will enact will be pure, holy, just, and done out of a clean heart to set things right, once and for all.
Anyway, this has been my observation of the Internet Jesus craze that is sweeping social media with confusion about the character of Christ.
If you want to know more about the historical Christ, the biblical Jesus, simply read the Gospels, read materials written by his disciples, and then compare what you’ve read with the behaviors enacted in the last one thousand years.
You’ll find that Jesus is Jesus and the rest, well, the rest is the rest.
Featured Image found on the Internet.