“Mom… Dad… What color was Jesus’ skin?”
That is the question that came from my 7-year-old daughter a few days ago as she stood over a blank piece of paper with crayons spread out across the table. It wasn’t a difficult question for us to answer, but the way my wife and I locked eyes right at that moment silently confirmed that we both knew it was an important one.
How would you respond if this question came up in your house? Maybe it already has.
In the days leading up to Christmas, we as a family have been talking about the different names of Jesus as a way to celebrate Advent. Each day, we read a different scripture that highlights one of the many titles that Christ is given. Some days my wife plans a little activity that goes along with the scripture.
This particular day, our daughter was drawing a picture of Jesus as “The Great I Am” (John 8:58). One of the reasons we celebrate Advent in this way is to instill in our daughter an understanding of who Jesus is as it relates to deep spiritual truths concerning his identity as God and Savior.
Then comes this question: “What color was Jesus’ skin?”
It’s a question that reminds us that Jesus is not only God, but he came to earth as a human. He chose a certain geographic place in this world and a certain people group to be born through. When people heard where he was from, they said, “Can anything good come from that town?” (John 1:46) Part of his human experience was feeling the abuse, judgements, and biases at the hands of others. His skin color mattered, his people group mattered, his hometown mattered.
“What color was Jesus’ skin?”
We answered, “Darker than our skin, but lighter than Junior.” Junior is our neighbor friend who comes from a Nigerian family. We went on to list a couple of people in her life who probably had a similar look to Jesus’ Middle Eastern heritage. With renewed focus, she picked up a crayon and got to work.
This is one of many conversations we will have with our daughter about who Jesus is and the implications of his racial and cultural identity. We are challenged as parents to consider what we are communicating with her about the person of Jesus and how the miracle of his incarnation gives him an understanding of all sorts of suffering and struggles.
In this holiday season, I hope you join me in thanking Jesus for being “The Great I Am,” come to earth as a Middle Eastern child from an undesirable town who overcame the sufferings of this world to bring salvation to all of us here.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
I hope you will join us on Christmas Eve at 6:00 pm as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and watch the worldwide premier of Bridgeway’s Christmas movie “Home for Christmas.”
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