Contributor: Josh Buck

Good Friday is remembered around the world as the day that Jesus bore the shame of the cross to bring about reconciliation between God and this world (Col. 1:20). This season reveals the lengths to which God is willing to fight for the poor, oppressed, and those outside the tribe of God (Jn. 1:13). Paul reminded a young church of this very truth when he wrote, “You once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death (Col. 1:21-22).” The “body of flesh” that was torn apart was a dark brown Jewish body.

Through the cross the brown skinned Messiah extended salvation to all peoples; regardless of skin color. This is good news in a racialized world.

TR-BE’s mission is to, “Confront racially unjust systems and seek reconciliation through the lens of the gospel.” We receive this mandate from the crucified Christ. When Jesus was on the cross, He confronted sin and put to open shame the powers of this world (Col. 2:15); subsequently setting in motion a plan of reconciliation. Good Friday takes seriously our sin, confronts it with sacrifice, and offers a hand of reconciliation. It is the desire of TR-BE to take seriously the sin of racism, confront it with the gospel, and seek a Christ-focused justice. Below is a fictional anecdote about the Good Friday season and an important takeaway for those bold enough to enter God’s work of racial reconciliation.

A few hours before the crucifixion God calls all the angels into His throne room. They gather around the throne to learn of God’s plan to vanquish evil and extend salvation to all peoples. The Archangel Michael comes before God to ask Him what all the angels desire to know.

The Archangel Michael bows before God and asks, “So how will you do it, my Lord?” “God replies, “Do what, my dear Michael?” The angel smiles and says, “Save the world. You have given us the colors for the canvas, you have made ready your brushes, and now we wish to know how your beloved Jewish Son will extend salvation to every tribe, tongue, and nation. We desire to know what you will paint.” God stands up, picks up His brush, mixed the colors and says, “Let me show you. I will paint what must be done and it will come to pass.” God the Father begins to paint a portrait of His Son in a desperate situation, standing over a Roman torture device, accused of treason, abandoned by His chosen people, under the full weight of the Roman Empire, and a man ripping His clothes off. The angel Michael unknowingly responds, “So this is how Lucifer, the fallen angel, will be judged?” God replied, “No, it is of my defenseless Son.” Michael looks confused and stood in silence before the throne. Unable to gather himself he cries, “My Lord! I don’t understand?!” “God replied in turn, “Dear Michael, you will learn soon enough.”

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Bruce Onobrakpeya (Urhobo, 1932-), “Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments,” 1969. Linocut. Collection of the SMA African Art Museum, Tenafly, New Jersey.

For those that grew up in America, you learn quickly that the greatest acts of defense come at the end of a sword, at the firing of a gun, or the dropping of an atomic bomb. The U.S. often defends herself through threat of force, use of force, or through deadly force. Embedded within American tales of heroism are often violent acts of defense or state sanctioned killing. Then we meet Jesus. How did God choose to overcome the force of evil in this world? Was it by the use of greater force, threat of force, or a sword? None of these. In God’s infinite wisdom He chose to overcome evil with the defenseless Lamb of God. How un-American. How otherworldly! The King of kings subjected himself to the treatment of a traitor, a political instigator, and of a man condemned to death by the state.

The greatest act of defense in all of history was from a brown-skinned Messiah, dying a defenseless death, in order to extend a shield of protection around those that cannot defend themselves.

Through the defenseless Messiah, God set a plan into motion that would bring about a new creation. Through Jesus’ broken brown body, a shield of protection was being prepared for every tribe, every ethnicity, and every person that was willing to accept Him. The stripes that marked His back represented our ultimate healing (Isaiah 53:5) and acceptance into the tribe of God. The painting of Good Friday is dark and hopeful. It is tragic and beautiful.

Embedded in Good Friday is a lesson that Christians must learn and practice. Jesus stood up for those outside of His family, tribe, people, and nation. Israel struggled to do this. Under the weight of national loyalty and life under siege Israel compromised God’s vision for bringing the nations together. The brown arms of Jesus nailed to the cross represent God’s heart for the nations, “Come to me all who labor, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).” The Son and the Spirit become, as Irenaeus describes so well, the two arms of God by which humanity was made and taken into God’s embrace. [1] The gospel proclamation, by means of Good Friday, provides a shield of protection for racial minorities, ethnic minorities, and for those that are on the margins.

We honor the crucified Christ when we stand with our brothers and sisters from divergent racial backgrounds, ethnicities, and tribes to undo the racialization of our world.

When we stand with and defend these brothers, sisters, and fellow humans it will come at great cost–as it did with Jesus. It cost Christ His life. We must share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:15). In doing so, we pick up His brush and begin to paint a new world.


Brown Skinned Messiah

Love dripped red, slowly down the cross.

His shield built wide, red stripe run across.

Love dripped red, calling out your name.

To all corners of the world–bearing tribal shame.

All peoples lay ahead, as darkness closes in.

Racism fixed behind, over His dark brown skin.

Love dripped red, slowly down the cross.

His shield built wide, red stripe run across.



[1] Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5,6,1

Brown-Skinned Messiah