This guest post is by Dan Crum. Dan & Connie have served among the Maasai in Kenya for over 20 years.
If Jesus had been Maasai, he would have been a shepherd and not a carpenter. He would have traveled to Loita to confront the witch-doctors, not Jerusalem to confront the Pharisees. He would have told parables about different cuts of meat, not different kinds of soil. He would have crossed tribes to eat with Kikuyu, not Samaritans. He would have returned cattle to the owner who lost them in a cattle-raid by Jesus’ age-group. He would have befriended the young teen who flinched at circumcision and the HIV-positive neighbor, raising them both above social stigma.
If Jesus had been Maasai, he would have still challenged the tribal abasement of women. He would have still stood up to government arrogance and local hatred of other tribes. He would have still welcomed children to sit on his lap. He would have still chosen 12 to be his (African) Apostles. He would have still preached the Sermon on the Mount of Kiliminjaro. He would have still been betrayed by one of the 12, still gone to trial under the tree where all big decisions are made, still carried a wood crossbeam to nail on an African olive tree, still had a (Maasai) spear thrust into his side, and at the end of the day been taken to the bush by his brave friends who would leave his Maasia-blanket-covered body there to be eaten by the hyenas and other carnivores of the night.
And on the third day, the women who returned to the bush where they laid Him would have found a neatly folded Maasai blanket, blood red (the traditional color of Maasai blankets). Despite the best efforts of the carnivores, Jesus would appear easily recognizable to the women and disciples. After many days on earth, appearing to several people in villages in Narok, Kajiado, and Nairobi, he would ascend to heaven from Africa and promise to return.
Jesus can be imagined in any culture and any time period, for He speaks to any culture at any point in history. He is as relevant in traditional societies and urban centers as he was in ancient Israel. He is supra-cultural, and I pray we believers can make Him as relevant to people we meet today as He made Himself to his own people two-thousand years ago.