Who is Jesus for Us?

Focus Scripture – Matthew 21:1-10 (NLT)

Let’s fast forward to the present day. Circumstances have hurt so many of us we encounter in today’s society. We’ve been wounded, and we’re looking for a savior to come riding into the broken places of our lives and start changing things and fixing things. Some of us have found that savior in Jesus. Right now, I’m thinking about other women down through the ages: “Who has Jesus been for wounded Black women of faith?” There are so many wonderful things about Jesus I could include here, but for the sake of time, I will mention only three:

Jesus is Trustworthy (Hebrews 13:5-8)

During their bondage, many Black women of faith believed that suffering through slavery was the will of God. Many of them identified with the victims in the Bible both by choice and by conditioning. They believed that just as Jesus Christ was victimized and ultimately arose in victory, it was the Christian thing to do to be victimized and to be redeemed in the end.  James Cone also highlighted this point when he observed, “Just as Jesus did not deserve to suffer, they [slaves] knew they did not deserve it; yet faith was the one thing white people could not control or take away.”[1] Many wounded Black women struggled through life by faith – leaning on the everlasting arm. They were victims of the double abuses of domestic violence and slavery; Sojourner Truth is a case in point. Her oppressors used their power in illegitimate ways, all the while declaring that what they were doing was for her good. She reported that during her lifetime she had plowed and planted and harvested crops. She had borne 13 children and seen most of them sold off into slavery.  She had been disrespected and treated as inferior by men and women alike. She was weary and angry and one day cried out with a mother’s grief: And ain’t I a woman? She said none but Jesus heard me her. She, no doubt, argued her point based on testimony from scripture that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore (Hebrews 13:5-8).

Jesus is Powerful (Luke 4:18, 10:13, 6:19)

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus performed “deeds of power” on behalf of the least, the last, and the lost, including the wounded black woman of faith. As suggested in Isaiah, Jesus was on an ongoing mission of healing the physical, spiritual and emotional hurt. Perhaps some Black women of faith can identify with the “bent woman” described in the Gospel of Luke. She is distressed, though the exact nature of her disability is unknown. In many respects, she often hurts so bad that she can’t even conceive of where to turn for help. No one can console her. No one has the “right” answers to help her out. So she desperately tries all kinds of ways and looks in all sorts of places to make the pain go away. In the story, the bent woman doesn’t even have the presence of mind to ask for help, but Jesus saw her need and responded with a healing touch. Theologian Jacquelyn Grant observed that Jesus treated women as fully human. In that regard, Jesus was a revolutionary. He is not only compassionate where women are concerned, but he is also powerful enough to change them from the inside out. Not just that; Jesus had the power to redeem her; that is, to lay down his life and pick it up again because he loved her.

Jesus Gives Abundant Life (John 10:10)

Jesus came preaching a message of hope and promising to lead the faithful to abundant and eternal life. This concept of abundance for the wounded black woman equates to assurance that comes when Jesus attends to the fragility and vulnerability of her life. Abundance relates to the comfort of her body and nourishment of her spirit in the face of tremendous odds. In a modern-day context, sometimes, a wounded black woman wanders into the valleys of oppression and misfortune. Sometimes she experiences sad memories and lonely nights. Sometimes she is victimized by crime, violence, apathy, and cynicism that plague the modern world. And often, she is distracted by unfulfilled dreams and broken promises. Because the thief comes to steal her joy, kill her peace, and destroy her hope, she sometimes gets confused, stressed out, and cannot find her way back to the pasture. But Jesus’ mission involved restoration of abundant life (John 10:10). For the wounded woman abundance does not have to be quantitative. It can also pertain to the richness in physical well-being or sufficiency of inner peace. For the injured Black woman of faith, abundance might entail not only victory over poverty, but also freedom from disease, acceptance by a hostile society, and simple justice in everyday matters. A wounded black woman of faith may envision herself as a modern-day lamb. She hears the voice of Jesus, and she follows it. She has faith that the Good Shepherd will lead her to pasture; he will feed her with the Bread of Life. He will give her Living Water from the fountain that never runs dry. Jesus will preserve her by his Spirit and make sure she has a life of plenty in a world of great scarcity.

Jesus is our risen Lord whose death conquered death! (Matt 28:6, John 10:18)

[1] James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, 22

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