Repost: Middle Eastern Jesus

This Christmas season, we’re revisiting previous Christmas posts. Today, enjoy this reminder about Jesus’ background.

A friend from a Muslim background who follows Christ told me yesterday as we were discussing Christmas, “You know, Jesus didn’t have white skin, he’s our Jesus.” Most of the Muslim world thinks Christianity is of Western invention, but Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again right here in the Middle East. He was visited from the East by kings and wise men from the descendants of Ishmael, and by Middle Eastern shepherds. The angels appeared in the very hills that today are dotted with mosque towers. And, Jesus’ reception with the Jewish world was not unlike the attitude Muslims have towards him today.


We so often miss the message God was communicating to us on Christmas when we whitewash our manger scenes and fill them with nice fluffy hay. Jesus came to a world as rife with conflict in the 1st century as it is today. He came the incarnate one to save us from within that mess. He came not only to save us but to give us an example of how to communicate love to those who need to hear it. Remember this Christmas that Jesus is intimately familiar with all the goings on in the Middle East, nothing is out of his control. Ask him what part you might play in sharing the miracle of Christmas with your Middle Eastern friends… after all He’s ‘their’ Jesus.w

About Scott Gustafson

Scott Gustafson has extensive experience in the Middle East as a practitioner and consultant with faith-based charities and churches in humanitarian relief and mission work. He earned his PhD in Religion and Theology from the Vrije Universteit and researched the religious conversion phenomenon among former Muslim refugees in the Levant and the de-radicalization of some violent extremists among them. He is a member of the Extreme Beliefs/Strong Religion working group at the VU, funded by the European Research Council and is the Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow at Churches for Middle East Peace. He earned an MA in Intercultural Studies/Middle East Studies from Moody Graduate School, and a BA in Nursing and Biology from Western Michigan University. He studied Arabic at the University of Jordan and holds a certification through the Cultural Intelligence Centre as a CQ Certified Facilitator. Scott advises large funding agencies as well as indigenous organizations in the Middle East and is an advocate for peace. He speaks to groups about mission, Islam, the Middle East and countering extremism and radicalization. He also helps run a non-profit cycling team. Scott and his wife have 2 children and they live in Grand Rapids, MI. Follow his Substack.