“Jesus was a refugee.” “Jesus was undocumented.” “Jesus was poor.”
These are theological statements.
They might be better said in this way:
“Jesus is a refugee.” “Jesus is undocumented.” “Jesus is as poor as dirt.”
That is, we believe that Christ is embodied (here and now), in, with, under, and through those who struggle and suffer the most under the Romes and Caesars and Legions and Cults-of-the-Emperors and Principalities and Powers of our day. We believe in the God of the Cross.
Let me try that again (in case that was not clear):
“Jesus was ___,” “Jesus is ___!” These assertions are not historic claims about the first century (even if they are historically true of the first century human named Jesus). They are theological claims about our own present history, about right now. Therefore, an exegetical reply, (“Well, actually…. Jesus was ____, because ____. Duh. Don’t you know history???!!!!!!??!?”), is completely inappropriate and missing the point.
In such a case, the theological claim is a claim about God right now, whereas the response is about an endlessly debated historical event that took place 2,000 years ago.
Jesus is Black. Jesus in trans. Jesus is poor. Jesus is migrating through the desert. Jesus is caged. Jesus is in prison. Jesus is in the nursing home and the cancer ward and silently living out her last days in the home of her youth with absolutely no one around. God the Child suffers in flesh. God the Human is alone. God the Crucified cries out to the world for liberative acts of justice and love for the crucified forsaken here and now. God weeps as those the church, the world, and all people sacrifice, marginalize, and exclude;
for those imagined outside the bounds of love.
Jesus was… Jesus is… these are theological statements about the God of the Cross,
and the God of everlasting love.
They are about God right now.