Since the Scriptures say that God exists from eternity past to eternity future with no beginning or end, it would be disconcerting to think of God as possessing any kind of nationality – he was present before any nation existed on earth!
It’s a different story with Jesus. When the Son of God became flesh, born of a virgin, he took on the ethnicity of his mother. Jesus could not be born just anywhere. God wanted to make sure we could identify his son when he came, so through prophecy he gave us particular features to look for.
One of the identifying features of Jesus Christ was his birthplace. Remember when the wise men followed the star and came to Herod asking where the King of the Jews would be born? Herod consulted with the scribes, who found the verse in the Bible that indicated that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6, quoting Micah 5:2, which was written hundreds of years earlier). Through fulfilled prophecy we know Jesus is God’s Messiah, whom God sent to save us from our sins. If Jesus was born in any other city, then he would not fulfill the prophecy and would be a false prophet.
Why can’t Jesus have been an African born in Bethlehem? God had proclaimed in advance that the Savior of the World would come through King David. The two genealogies in Matthew and Luke trace Mary and Joseph’s lineage to King David, a Jew.
So it’s very important that we see the Messiah as Middle Eastern, because God said that’s how we could identify him. This means that we need look for no other Savior, for he has already come! Through him God will deliver us from sin and bring us into a relationship with himself.
What Do You Think?
a. If you are a non-Jewish believer, would you feel closer to Jesus if he were your own nationality? Why or why not?
b. Are you reluctant to accept Jesus’ Jewish ethnicity? If so, can you trace that hesitancy to its roots?