A Gentle Reminder That Jesus Was A Brown Middle Eastern Refugee Who Would Not Have Voted For Trump
Sara Benincasa

First, a couple of minor issues:

1) Jesus was Aramaian—a very dark-skinned people. So, he was likely as dark or even darker than the picture with Sara’s post. Is there a problem with that?

2) The oldest of the Gospels was published (which meant something different then that it does now) 40 years after the events. The epistles of the various apostles, however, are older and contemporaneous with the organization of the early believers. These letters, along with portions of the Gospels were copied and passed around among the community of believers before they were collected and codified.

About the essay itself:

With regard to Christ’s “politics” (and I think it’s obvious he would not have been at all interested in human partisanship) I think it’s helpful to look at what he taught. The two greatest commandments, Christ said (quoting and paraphrasing Moses), were to love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He illustrated this with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which amply demonstrated that our neighbors include the people we feel we have the best reason to despise. We were to “do likewise” not just mouth platitudes about believing we ought to do it.

Here’s the crucial point about the above: Christ says this in response to a question: “What must I DO to have eternal life?” The answer is, care for even those you consider unclean and irreligious—which the Jews and Samaritans mutually considered each other.

In another instance, Christ gives the commandment to do to others as we would have them do to us. This, he says, is a narrow gate “and few there are who find it.”

Here’s the crucial point about the above: he says of loving one’s neighbor (even the alien and heretical) and treating others as we would be treated that they are the commandments upon which all others depend.

As the Rabbi Hillel (and Jesus’ contemporary) said: “This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”

I think this is the spirit in which Sara wrote her essay. If this is, indeed, Christ’s central teaching, the commandment upon which all others depend, and what one must do to have eternal life, then considerations such as gender, gender orientation, skin color, point of origin or difference of religion or philosophy are ephemeral, at best. Protecting our assets or our lifestyles or our talking points or our national/racial identity at the expense of others is to violate that central tenet. To do so with malice or violence is to do violence to the very foundation of Christ’s ministry.

This poses the question: Can one be a Christian while in violation of the commandment that Christ puts at the center of his Gospel through explicit priority, constant repetition, and repeated demonstration?

It’s a question each individual must address for his or her self, I think.

As Jesus is about to go to the cross, he takes his disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane, where he gives them the last directives they will hear before his crucifixion. (John 15.) He tells them he is the True Vine and that if they wish to remain connected to him and to God, they must do one thing: Obey his commandment. He gives them this one and none other: “Love one another as I have loved you.” He repeats this, so that they get it, and he warns them that if they do not obey this commandment, they are like dead branches that are cut off and thrown into the fire—no longer connected to the source of life.

This is not a glowing and cuddly throwaway line intended to give believers warm fuzzies about helping little old ladies cross the street, though I was raised believing that it was that. I now understand it as more of a litmus test.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” — Matthew 7:16–17

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