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The Image of Jesus: Was He Black?

June 2, 2017 by Herbert Daughtry

The Search for the True Jesus: Historically and Theologically

Part Seven


“The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. His ride into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday (Luke 9:51-51) raises questions regarding His motives. Jesus was the Son of David, the warrior King, whose kingdom God promised to establish. Surely, then, Jesus knew that the crowd that greeted Him on this festive occasion understood the military significance of this entry. ‘Hosanna,’ they shouted, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the Kingdom of our Father who is coming’ (Matthew 20:20-23).

“Certainly, there wasn’t anything peaceful about His action in the temple when He attacked the licensed businessmen, uttering the words already quoted (Matthew 26:50-52). Would any leader bent on peace attack the economic system and its respected merchants, especially when they were wrapped in religious garb? Did Jesus know He was casting down the gauntlet? Does His action in the temple area on behalf of exploited poor folks prove that Jesus was a leader who was willing to risk all in an assault on the system on behalf of others?

“Jesus’ Friends and Disciples

“Next, look at the people who were attracted to Him – common people, winos, prostitutes, outcasts, tax swindlers, zealots, and revolutionaries. Is that kind of catering to and organizing of the outcasts, misfits, radicals, and revolutionaries the efforts of a leader with no concern for structural change?

“Among His inner circle, there were some characters with rather shady backgrounds. Had they all been converted to an individual, other-worldly salvation living in peace and goodwill with Romans and their countrymen? Or did they believe that Jesus was the Messiah who would restore the kingdom of Israel – a real, earthly, material, concrete kingdom? And, if this was their thinking, did Jesus know it? Did He lead them on, or was He planning to fulfill their expectations?

“Consider Judas Iscariot. Iscariot bears a striking resemblance to “Sicarii,” the word used by Josephus to identify the knife wielders and the dagger men who had developed a skill of killing people with daggers hidden in their sleeves.

“It has been suggested that the only plausible reason for Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was that Jesus was not militant enough. Jesus really intended to be peaceful. But, if he, Judas, could force Jesus to act, Jesus surely would enjoin the battle and issue a call for the masses to join Him. Judas was a Zealot, and Zealots did not sell out to Romans for a few pieces of silver. On the contrary, they would die themselves, for nothing, if it meant promoting their cause.

“Then, there was Simon, the Zealot, and James and John, the two firebrand brothers, called by Jesus, ‘the sons of thunder.’ The term ‘Boanerges’ from which ‘thunder’ is translated, can also be translated, ‘the fierce and wrathful ones.’ James and John, true to their nature, wanted to rain faire from heaven on a Samaritan village that denied passageway to Jesus (Luke 9:52-52). If they would burn up a people for such a minimal act, what would they do to murderous Romans and treacherous Israelites?These same brothers were ambitious, too. They wanted the right and left hand on the throne.

“Additionally, the disciples carried swords, too. On the night the authorities came for Jesus, Peter went for his piece and adroitly wacked the ear off the head of one of the policemen (Matthew 24:29-45). Granted, Jesus reattached the ear, but why did He allow Peter to pack the sword in the first place? Surely, he knew Peter was packing. You cannot hide a sword as one might hide a switchblade. Did all of them carry swords? If so, what for? What would ‘turn the other cheek’ disciples following a ‘go the extra mile’ leader want with swords?

“Ghettos of Nazareth

“The place of Jesus’ child-reading, Nazareth, was a hell hole – a ghetto. ‘No good thing ever came from Nazareth,’ went the proverb. Nazareth was a hotbed of revolutionary activity. There had been a Zealot uprising around 6 A.D. Jesus grew up in the knowledge of the heroics of the Zealots. Can a leader with that kind of background be inflexibly wedded to peaceful tactics? In the early years of His community, there were attempts to eradicate class lines and to have everyone share equitably. Was this socialism? Also, there was the removal of discrimination based on sex. Everyone was equal in Jesus’ community (Acts 2:44,45). Was this a statement? Did Jesus know that to teach and to build an alternative community, where everyone was equal and shared all things equally, would automatically condemn social orders predicated upon class structures?

“Tradition of the Prophets

“And, what about the tradition of the prophets, the tradition Jesus followed? They were known to lead armies, fight guerilla warfare, and do whatever was necessary to promote God’s will, as they understood it.”

… to be continued.