Was Jesus a racist in need of rebuke? Well, before we even examine the text of Mark chapter 7 or the claims of a progressive “pastor” and LGBT activist, consider 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Scripture is clear—Christ never sinned. And Scripture is also clear that racism (preferential treatment and hatred of others) is a sin (e.g., James 2:1–4). So was Jesus racist? No, absolutely not.
Now here’s the argument “Pastor” Brandan Robertson made in a recent TikTok:
Did you know that there’s a part of the Gospel of Mark where Jesus uses a racial slur? In Mark chapter 7 there’s the account of the Syrophoenician woman. A woman who is Syrian and Greek, both of which there were strong biases against within the Jewish community.
And she comes to ask Jesus to heal her daughter who is possessed by a demon. And what is Jesus’ response? He says it’s not good for me to give the children’s food—meaning the children of Israel’s food—to dogs. He calls her a dog.
What’s amazing about this account is that the woman doesn’t back down. She speaks truth to power, she confronts Jesus and says, ‘Well you can think that about me but even dogs deserve the crumbs from the table.’
Her boldness and bravery to speak truth to power actually changes Jesus’ mind. Jesus repents of His racism and extends healing to this woman’s daughter.
I love this story because it’s a reminder that Jesus is human. He had prejudices and bias. And when confronted with it, He was willing to do His work. And this woman was willing to stand up and speak truth.
In 1 Timothy 2:15 God says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Well, Robertson is not “correctly handling the word of truth.” Instead he’s taking his progressive ideology (which, while carrying the banner of “Christian,” frequently falls into heresy, such as emphasizing Christ’s humanity to the point that they claim he sinned . . . of course, that destroys the biblical gospel—but such individuals have rejected the gospel anyway) and reading it into the Bible.
Here’s how I would respond to this video:
- Robertson has taken this passage out of context and totally distorted it. In Matthew 15:21–28 and the parallel passage in Mark 7:24–30, Jesus is both teaching his disciples and testing the faith of the Syrophoenician woman. Jesus makes it clear that his ministry was to the Jew first. (They rejected him, and in the book of Acts we see the church progressively shift from reaching just the Jews to reaching the world with the gospel message.) It wouldn’t have been right for Jesus to take the “children’s food” and give it to their pets (contrary to what Robertson claims, the word Jesus used wasn’t a racial slur—it was the word for “pet dog” in Greek).In her response, the woman shows her incredible faith in acknowledging the nature of Jesus’ ministry but asking that the “crumbs” be given to her. He honors her faith and heals her child. (You can read an excellent explanation of this passage on the Got Questions website or enjoy this sermon from Charles Spurgeon on this passage from our website.)
- Robertson doesn’t understand who Jesus is—the Son of God “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Either Jesus was the perfect, blameless Lamb of God who died to take away our sins, or he was merely a human who sinned and who cannot offer salvation. I don’t know Robertson, but I am confident that he rejects the doctrine of salvation as outlined in Scripture (penal substitutionary atonement) because the idea that Jesus sinned is utterly incompatible with Scripture and the gospel message.
- Jesus taught against racism. For example, he said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). He didn’t need a sinful, fallible human being (as we all are) to correct him. He is “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3) and utterly perfect and right in all he does.
- Robertson, a homosexual man, should take heed of this passage: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality” (1 Corinthians 6:9). But there is hope for him, and every other sinner: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:10). God forgives anyone who comes to him in faith, washing, sanctifying, and justifying us by his great grace and power.
- Biblically, Robertson is not qualified to be a pastor, as the qualifications include: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach . . .” (1 Timothy 3:2).
Accusing Jesus of racism is blasphemy. Robertson, and other progressive “Christians” like him, need to repent and trust in the perfect Lamb of God for salvation. We are saying this in love—it is not hate speech, as we sincerely desire him to repent and trust God’s Word as he should.