This is probably the most "radical" sermon I have ever preached. This is also a sermon that I always wanted to preach, but prior to being assigned pastor of Miller Chapel, I was unsure as to the reaction I would have received. It is interesting how being a pastor enables me to take risks that I never would have before. While the tone of this sermon may sound somewhat inflammatory, please read the whole thing. I do believe that there is a very important message at the end.

Matt 16:13-19 -- When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Let us meditate on the subject:

Jesus and the Black Church

Once again, we have come to the beginning of another Black History month. A time we are supposed to take to specially recognize the achievements of our black brothers and sisters who made great strides and sacrifices on behalf of us all. This morning, instead of dealing with the modern age, I want to deal with the time of Jesus and maybe even a little before.

If you look at the first chapter of Matthew, you will find the genealogy of Jesus. Now, Matthew purposely started his gospel out with this family line as to assert the true authority of Jesus. And as we see, we go from Abraham on through to Jesus, passing by some notable names in the family tree. But to truly understand, we must go even further back, because Abraham, who was born Abram, and like Peter in the scripture had his name changed, was a descendant of Noah, who was a descendant of Methuselah, who was a descendant of Seth, who in turn, was the son of Adam. So in actuality, not only can we go back to Abraham, but we can go all the way back to Adam as well.

The reason this is notable is mainly because of the biblical descriptions and controversies regarding Noah and Solomon. In the bible, in the first few chapters of Genesis, we find that Noah had three sons. And it is these three sons, all of whom were born with a different skin color, which created the different races that we have on the earth now. We had what we could call black, white and mongoloid. Now, the reason I bring this up is similar to the reason I brought this up in bible study a couple of weeks ago.

Noted scientist Charles Darwin during his lifetime came up with a remarkable realization, which has proved to be a genetic and scientific fact. While it is possible for a black couple to give birth to a white child, it is physically, genetically and scientifically impossible for a white couple to naturally give birth to a black child. Now with today's climate of cloning and invitro fertilization, we should know that anything is possible. But in the natural selection, the way God created things to happen, we still have this genetic fact. This is because the gene that creates the so- called black race is a dominant gene and the gene that created the so-called white race is a recessive gene. Therefore, while two dominant factors can create a recessive factor, two recessive factors cannot create a dominant one.

Given that, we look that the sons of Noah, and we realize that if he indeed had three sons of three different races or colors, if you will, then this makes the argument that Noah was himself what we would call black today. Therefore, given the scientific facts that we have noted, coupled with that the fact that in all likelihood a vast majority of things that happened in the early days of the Bible took place in and around certain parts of what we call Africa, and we deduce that Noah himself would be considered black by today's standards. Also, since Noah was probably a man of color, if we go back to Adam, we can rightfully deduce that Adam himself was a man of color as well.

There are descriptions of Solomon in the Bible which suggest that he too was a man of color, particularly descriptions found in the Song of Solomon. And if you keep going down the family line, in the instances that physical descriptions were given, they all lend to a majority of these people being of color.

Even the brief and sparse physical of Jesus which is recorded in Revelation suggests that Jesus too was physically a man of color. But not counting that, one has to wonder how 2,000 years ago, as is recorded in the second chapter of Matthew, a couple could hide in Egypt and not be discovered as not being from that land, since all descriptions of people of that time point to Egypt being a land largely made up of people of color.

Now we must ask the question, why is any of this important? Why do we even need to go over this and rehash these issues? Why do we need to point this out? Well, there is the issue of historical accuracy. The issue that for many thousands of years, we as blacks (and many other people) have been led to believe that our contributions to society have been limited at best. There are those who would like to say that the builders of the pyramids in Egypt were in fact not people of color. There are those who would like to say that it was a fluke, as it is recorded in the Bible, that Moses' hand was turned white by God. However, why would God turn something white that was already allegedly white?

The reason we bring this us is the exact same reason that we have Black History Month in the first place. To get out the truth. To get out the truth about what our ancestors did and the true identity of our ancestors. None of this is to be radical, none of this is to be militant, none of this is to be antagonistic. I discuss these issues with you this morning because they are historically relevant. I discuss them because there are people who would like to deny our history and tradition, many of whom look and talk like us, many who don't, therefore, creating less of a sense of pride in who we are and what our people have accomplished.

But let us deal with the scripture, and move forward into the modern age. When Jesus was talking to the disciples, he was curious as to who the people he had encountered thought he was. So he asked the question, who do they think I am. Some thought he was actually John the Baptist, despite the fact that John was beheaded and his head was on display. Some thought he was Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets like Isaiah.

But when Jesus pointed the question directly to Simon Peter, he replied that he thought Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus was pleased with this answer, and as a reward, changed his name to Peter, acknowledging the fact that Peter received this knowledge from God.

Jesus then proclaims that on the rock where they were standing, he was building his church and that even the gates of Hell would not be able to stand against it. Jesus also goes on to say something else, that I think is pertinent to this particular month. He tells them he is giving them the keys to the kingdom of heaven and that whatever they do on earth, the same results will happen in heaven, positively and negatively. Kind of like that old adage, what goes around comes around.

I find this scripture interesting for two reasons. First and foremost, we have the beginning of the church. Jesus founded the church on a rock. Again, in what would become typical Jesus fashion, he did not start off in some big lofty building, adorned with gold and silver and jewels, with large choirs and tons of people. He started the church in front of 12 other men, on a simple and humble rock. I can imagine Jesus stepping down on a particular rock for emphasis as to where and how he was building his church. It was a simple piece of rock which represented the potential of the entire church. The rock was something that could grow.

For years upon years, the church, the black church in particular has thrived because of a rock. Metaphorically speaking, the rock was usually one person who gave untold service in the cause the church. A person who went above and beyond the call of duty in order to advance the kingdom of God. This person was usually not concerned with what he or she could get out of the church, but only what they could contribute to the church.

The other interesting thing is where Jesus said that whatever was bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever was loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. This is interesting for the mere fact that Jesus is telling us that whatever we do here on earth, the same can be done in heaven. All of the mistakes, the ill will, the negative thinking, the problematic behavior, these are all things that could be done in heaven. Likewise, the good things -- the love, the hope, the joy, all of the good things that we are commanded to do have the potential to be done in heaven as well.

But as I prepare to end, let me go back to the topic this morning. Jesus and the Black Church. For countless years, the black church was the place for blacks to go to get their information, their source of comfort, to be informed. The black church was a vehicle that educated, that was not afraid to take a stance against things that were wrong or suspect. And this has been the way it has been since the beginning of the church. For you see, the real black church is the church in general. The real black church is the church that Jesus started with Peter on the rock. The real black church is the church that Paul helped to build. Isn't interesting that the oldest church in the world, a church older than the Vatican, Greek Orthodox or any other so-called denomination is in Ethiopia? And why is that? Because the church, itself is black. Jesus was not a blond haired, blue eyed surfer looking person. He was not someone who did not look like us.

For years and years and years, we have been sold a bill of goods regarding the physical description of Jesus. We have been made to believe that Jesus, like everyone else in the Bible were of this so-called white race. We were made to believe that we as a people had no place in the mainstream church. We hear people say that blacks were not Christians until the advent of slavery, but this is just not true. Christianity has been spreading across the African continent for hundreds of year prior to the advent of chattel slavery.

In our tendency toward Black Nationalist thought, we run into people who think that anything that did not originate in Africa is wrong. Even my fraternity is wrong because we use Greek letters instead of African symbols. And while the Black Nationalists do bring up some very interesting points in terms of the legacy of our forefathers, and they do help to educate our children on this history, we are missing a vital part somewhere along the way.

There are times when race really does not matter. Now despite the fact that I am reasonably certain that Jesus was what we would physically call a black man, it was the spirit of Jesus, not the physical manifestation of Jesus, that matters the most. And in those areas, race does not play a part of it. Too often we confuse the spiritual with the historical and the physical. Yes, the historical and physical Jesus was probably someone who looked like us. Therefore, by today's standards, the church he founded on that rock with Peter and the other disciples, who were also in all likelihood people of color, could be considered a black church. Just like our churches today.

However, it is the spiritual Jesus that is the most important. It is the spirit of Jesus, his spirit within us, that matters most. Jesus did not just come down to save one group of people. He did not come down to earth just to deal with the people who wanted and welcomed him. Jesus came to be a savior for all men. Regardless of the color of their skin, the texture of their hair, the clothes that they wore, or any of that. Jesus was not concerned with that because he was concerned with our soul. He was concerned in saving our soul so that we might have a place in heaven. Jesus gave us the opportunity to believe in him. And yes, people have taken the image of Jesus and perverted it and made it into something more comfortable for them. After all, what could be more scary to all these white supremacists if they fully realized and accepted that the black folks that they killed and lynched and continue to try to downgrade and downplay, is someone who looked like me or you. They'd be shocked.

So we must deal with the spirit. We must deal with the spirit of the church. The spirit of the church that gives comfort and refuge from the toils of life. The spirit of the church that brings one closer with one's self. The spirit of the church which was created so that we might have a place to feel comfortable and be able to worship God in our own way, free from reprisals, free from the toils of racism and discrimination, a place where we can experience God.

So it's really not important what color Jesus was. Yes, it's nice to know, and for history's sake, it is relevant. But being black is not going to save your soul. Being white is not going to save your soul. The color you are will not get you into Heaven. Having money in your pocket, living in a fancy house or driving a fancy car will do nothing for your soul. But having Jesus as your savior, acknowledging the man that willingly gave his life for you, the man who is prepared to give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, this is the man that can help you. This is the man who can be there for you when your friends desert you and your family is gone. It is Jesus who can help you get over those hurdles. It is the spirit of Jesus and the inspiration of His Holy Spirit which can guide us, watch over us and protect us.

So we must give into the spirit. Accept and acknowledge the fact that the spirit is no respecter of color. That the spirit is no respecter of race. That we are all created in God's image and likeness. That we are all God's children. And when we come across idiots who try to tell us what Jesus wasn't, we can tell them who Jesus was and is. And that is the savior of man. And that is my savior, your savior, our savior. But all we have to do is accept his gift of sacrifice. All we have to do is give our lives over to him. All we have to do is acknowledge that the one who is capable of giving life is the one who gave his life for us.

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1(Charles E. Smoot 2000-2009, all rights reserved)