What Color Was Jesus?

There is a heated, somewhat childish, ongoing debate about the color of Jesus when He walked on earth. Was he white or black? This debate is especially prevalent between whites and blacks of the United States. It is rooted in America’s history of enslaving Africans.

Africans suffered brutal trafficking to and enslavement in the United States at the hands of White Christians for several centuries. Once in the United States, the slaves were introduced to Christianity. But today, some Africans are denouncing the fact that they were taught to serve a “white God.” Many of them still hold their Christian faith, but they are arguing that Jesus, when He walked on earth, was black, and not white.

In American television series and movies, Jesus is often portrayed as a white man. And more often than not, an actor of Caucasian descent takes on the role of Jesus in films. But was Jesus white or black?

According to biblical reference and history, Jesus was neither white nor black. He was Jewish, similar in color to the present day Jews. The Jews are characterized by a tan complexion which approximates white, but slightly darker than the white race. At the same time, the Jewish tan is closer in appearance to the white race than the black race. In fact, people who have never lived among white people can easily mistake a Jewish person for white.

The bible describes the color of David, of whom Jesus was a descendant, as being “ruddy,” which means, “a healthy reddish color.” Nevertheless, people can disagree on what shade of red this actually is. Most Jews will agree that Jesus had the color of the present day Jews of Israel, and most Jews are similar in color – with a tan complexion that is closer to white than to black.

With that being said, it is time to address the more important aspect of this question. Jesus’ color is completely unimportant to the human race. Jesus’ miniscule time on earth spans a few short breaths between the beginning of time and eternity, and served the purpose of fulfilling God’s work. While Jesus walked on earth, He described himself as the Son of Man. He walked as fallen man, but rose as the glorified Son of God. Jesus took on human form to pay the price for mankind’s redemption, not to glorify any particular race.

In fact, Moses came to the Jewish people only, but Jesus comes to the whole world. If Jesus wanted, he could have changed the color of His body to black, brown, blue, yellow, or any other color of the rainbow. He could have adjusted the height and weight to anything of His desires. He could have changed the color of this eyes and hair. But these characteristics were not important to Jesus’ role on earth.

Jesus took on man’s imperfect body in the fallen state and suffered all the humiliations that fallen man is doomed to – all for the purpose of redeeming fallen man from the wages of sin. Jesus’ body during his birth, Ministry, and death on earth is in no way a final embodiment of Him or His infinite glory, and the color of His Skin is of no relevance to true Christians.

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