Posted by: Nancy Day-Achauer | April 8, 2009

What Race is Jesus?

I was thinking that I should post a profound Easter message but that’s not what came to mind. That darn Holy Spirit is always leading me in other directions and I have no choice but to follow. Instead of a pithy Easter thought, I remembered an event from my childhood. I was a little kid, maybe 7 or so, sitting at the kitchen table and I asked my parents what race Jesus was. My mom offered that he had olive skin (weird that certain shades of brown are called olive but that’s a different subject). And I said “Yeah, but what race is he?” My dad thought for a moment and said, “Well since he’s the Son of God he can’t really be one race, he must be all races.” (Dad, I’m sure you’re shaking your head and saying, “I said that?” You did, trust me.) That answer actually made sense to me, end of discussion.

Fast forward several decades and my dad’s response really makes me think. It was probably an off the cuff response, a quick answer to a young child, but it became formative to my theology. A little comment that was probably considered inconsequential has stuck with me for life. I know Jesus was Jewish but I don’t see Jesus as a man with a racial identity. I see him as the sum of humanity, a person that shares all of our DNA. When I think about him I can connect because he isn’t “other,” and people who are different than I can connect for the same reason. Jesus is never “other.”

If DNA testing had been around back then maybe a test could prove my dad’s idea. If we are all made in the image of God and Jesus is our brother then maybe Jesus is all races. We can claim him for our own and at the same time know that everyone else can claim him too. 

What race was Jesus? The human race. Whoever you are, where ever you are, you can connect with him because he isn’t “other”.  Maybe this is an Easter message.  The resurrected Christ shares our DNA, we cannot be separated.  Even if we were to consider ourselves to be “other” and without connection it would be a moot point because we are inextricably connected to his human self and his God self.  It’s hardwired and spiritwired.  He lived, died, and rose for me and you whether we like it or not.



  1. Nancy,

    I really like your insight on this. Was it in Systematic that one of the groups did a case study on the picture “White Boy Jesus?” They also showed some beautiful pictures of how the image of Jesus was translated into various ethnic groups and cultures. I especially like your idea that the resurected Christ shares our DNA, that is an awesome thought!

  2. Nancy, this is great stuff. I love the phrase “Jesus is never ‘other.'” Wow. Glad you’re blogging. Keep sharing.

  3. Yep, Nancy…that’ll preach! Easter is probably the most difficult sermon of the year…so many temptations to be pithy or profound or pompous. I just figure we need to say, like you did, one simple message in a variety of stories: “Life happens.”

  4. Nancy, you are an amazing writer. I lack this skill. My daughter, Dana, is also great at writing. Her husband set up a blog (he even has his own server) and Dana posts family updates, especially about her almost two-year old, Tony.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading your pondering. But have never wondered about what race Jesus is. Now you’ve got me thinking. Keep up the work. This blog is easier than Facebook.

  5. good stuff. thank you.

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