Census Question: Which Race was Jesus?

by Tad Lindley

Recently on a census form, you probably checked a box to indicate your race. Many of us come from mixed ancestry. Very few of us are purebred anything. In the past, the United States recognized people only as “white”, or “persons of colored descent”. In those days, if a person was of mixed parenting, if their skin was light enough, they checked “white”. If their skin was too dark to be considered “white” they would check “person of colored descent”. These days there are many choices to choose from, and on top of all of that, you have to differentiate whether you are Hispanic, which means you are any skin color, but you or your ancestors speak Spanish.

Racism in the Bible

Racism was just as common in Bible times as it is today. If you have been to church much, perhaps you have heard what many preachers refer to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). Jesus told the story to pure-bred Jews from one of the twelve tribes of Israel. In the story, a man gets in with some bad people. They rob him and beat him until he is near death. Two full-bred Jewish men come by and see the dying man, the first a priest, and the second a temple worker. Each Jewish man crosses to the side of the road opposite the dying man and pretends not to see him. Then a half-breed Samaritan comes along and sees the dying man. He nurses him and takes him to a hotel.

Samaritans: The half-breed Jews

The story was a slam on those that were listening to it. You see, the Jews hated the Samaritans. The Samaritans were half-breeds. They were descended from Jews who had intermarried with Gentiles (Gentiles are non-Jews). Genetically speaking, the Samaritans were only half Jewish.

Evidence of this racism shows up in John 4:9. The woman at the well asks Jesus, “How is it that you being a Jew are asking for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” In other words, she was saying, “You’re a pure Jew, and I’m a half-breed. Full Jews won’t even put their mouth on a half-breed’s cup.”

Jesus only half Jewish

What the woman at the well did not realize, and what the scribes and Pharisees could not yet comprehend was that Jesus himself was only half Jewish. From the standpoint of his DNA he actually had more in common with the Samaritans that he did with the Jews.

On his mother’s side he was a Jew. Jesus’ mother was a Jewish woman named Mary. She was descended from the tribe of Judah and as such was nearly 100% Jewish (see Genesis 38 for the exception). Mary was a virgin until sometime after Jesus was born (Matthew 1:18, 25). She miraculously became pregnant when she was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:20, Luke 1:35). This means that on his Father’s side, Jesus was not Jewish.

God is not Jewish. Yes, the Jews were God’s chosen people, and He is the God of the Jews, but he is also the God of the Muslim, and the Buddhist, the Christian and the atheist as well as every other category of person on the planet. They may not know His name, and they may not know who he is, they may deny he even exists, but that does not change the fact that he is still their God. It just so happens that when God became a man, he did so through a Jewish mother, and so Jesus was a half-breed: on his mother’s side, a Jew, on his Father’s side, God.

Third breed?

A common teaching for the last seventeen hundred years is that Jesus is one third of God. In other words, that God exists in three persons. This is not a Bible doctrine, but a human philosophy. Never anywhere in the Bible is the number three applied to God. The word “person” is used to describe God in exactly one location, Hebrews 1:3, where Jesus is described as the express image of God’s person (not persons). Jesus was not a third breed.

The strange demographics of Jesus

In respect to his parentage he was half Jewish, but let’s look at what the Bible says regarding his Father’s side: Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of this world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:8-9 NKJV). Don’t trust me, check your own Bible. It should read almost the same: all of God was in Jesus, not half of God and not one third of God. Jesus exists as half-breed Jew, and full-breed God. I don’t even think the Roman census way back in Bethlehem had a box to check for that. No matter, if all the books in the world couldn’t contain the things he has done (John 21:25), then it’s unlikely that a single box on the 2020 US Census could adequately describe him.

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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