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What race was Jesus?

People throughout history have depicted Jesus as a reflection of their own race. In the Middle Ages many artists began depicting Jesus as a Caucasian with light brown, wavy hair and blue eyes. But this image is far from the truth.

The Bible is clear on Jesus' race; heritage is not a mystery. Matthew 1:1–17 traces Jesus' genealogy from Abraham to David to Joseph, and Luke 3:23–38 traces it back to Adam. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), He was of the lineage of King David (Luke 2:4–17), and He was brought up in Nazareth (Luke 4:16). While Jesus' genealogy includes a couple people from different ethnicities (Rahab from the Canaanite city of Jericho and Ruth from Moab), Jesus, simply put, was a Hebraic Jew. He would have likely had olive-brown skin, brown to black hair, and brown eyes; but the Bible doesn't give us any details on Jesus' appearance as a man. In fact it specifies that there was nothing special about His appearance: "he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). Judas even had to point out which man Jesus was among His disciples to the Roman soldiers who had come arrest Him, probably in part because Jesus looked just like the rest of them (Matthew 26:47–49). Because the Bible does not mention what Jesus looked like, we know that it must not be that important.

Having a realistic understanding of Jesus' race is helpful so that we don't misrepresent Him to the world. Jesus' race is not the most important thing about Him. Jesus is the only Savior for all people, no matter their ethnicity (Acts 4:12; John 3:16–18). He welcomes in those from "every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages" (Revelation 7:9). Any person—whatever his or her race—who turns away from sin and to Jesus in faith, can be forgiven of his or her sin and become a child of God (John 1:12–13).

It is perfectly fine to value your ethnicity, your culture, and your heritage, after all these are part of what makes you who you are. But the Bible tells us that race is not what is most important. All humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). All humans have sinned and are separated from God (Romans 3:23; 6:23). The Bible talks about God's desire to rescue people from sin and bring them into relationship with Himself. Those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9) are family with one another and part of the body of Christ. Their primary identity is found in Christ, and their ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

The Bible speaks of God's desire to unite all peoples in Him: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Christ came for all races to "create in himself one new man," and He made no distinction between race, ethnicity, culture or appearance (Ephesians 2:15). Even during His public ministry to the Jews, Jesus went against their racist attitudes. Jesus did not reject anyone who came to Him, not the Samaritan woman whom Jewish culture would have rejected (John 4:1–42) nor the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5–13). His disciples learned that the Holy Spirit was given to all who put their faith in Jesus, including Samaritans and Gentiles (Acts 8:14–17; 10:44–48). Peter understood that "God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34–35). Jesus was a Jew, but He came for both Jews and Gentiles (i.e., all other races). Jesus can unite all people across all boundaries; He invites the outsider to be a part of His family. Ephesians 2:14–19 declares, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. . . . So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." Jesus was of the human race, and His redemptive work accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection is offered to all of humanity.


Related Truth:

Was Jesus a Jew?

Was Jesus black?

What did Jesus look like?

What do we know about the real, historical Jesus? Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus Christ?


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