Is Jesus Really Korean and Does He have Time for Me? Thoughts from 21 Jump Street


“Korean Jesus” from “21 Jump Street”

Jesus Christ has many faces, physical forms, and cultural characteristics. Forget the historical Jesus—the one with the burly beard and middle-eastern complexion. So too should the westerner disregard the last thousand years in which Jesus was depicted as an emaciated white man with long flowing hair.

Cultures have, for thousands of years, viewed and depicted Jesus in thousands of different ways. Each shape and form in which Jesus took spoke more of individuals and less so of Jesus himself. This reality has been brought to light in a humorous, albeit crude and misinformed, way in the popular movie 21 Jump Street.

Two baby-faced cops botch an undercover case in a local High School attempting to uncover a new and dangerous drug gaining ground amongst the youth of their city. The headquarters for this undercover agency, named 21 Jump Street, is an old abandoned Korean church named the “The Aroma of Christ Church.” Within its’ walls, a Korean crucifix with a decidedly Korean Jesus stands. The interaction with this Jesus is humorous, but misleading. But more than misleading, it illuminates a serious misconception that many make about Christ.

In the most notoriously humorous scene, Officer Schmidt, played by Jonah Hill, attempts to pray to “Korean Jesus” but is humorously unacquainted with the etiquette of prayer. The disgruntled captain in-charge of the undercover operation bursts through a window yelling “Hey! Hey! Stop fucking with Korean Jesus! He ain’t got time for your problems. He busy with Korean shit!”

While written for humors’ sake, the notion that Jesus is “too busy” and only handles “Korean” affairs is a gross distortion. Christ’s greatest concern is for those whom he died. He is not “busy” doing other things.

The idea of a Korean Jesus, as opposed to an Indian, Chinese, African, or European Jesus, is also a matter of humor. While certainly “Jesi” (plural for Jesus) abound, it would be fair to say that Jesus (the actual person) most likely doesn’t care whether Asians see Jesus as an Asian, Africans see him as African, and Indians see him as Indian. What Jesus truly wants is a relationship, personal and loving, more so than biological and ethnic precision on who Jesus is. The only identity Jesus is concerned with is his own with the Father and with us, as his bride. His identity is ours.

The blood and identity that flows through his veins now flows through ours. Once we took part in his flesh and blood through the communion (Eucharist) and the cross, we died. It was upon our cross that Christ died for us and with us, putting an end to sin—and our exclusivist ethnic and cultural identities. We were all made one on the cross with Christ. There is no Korean Jesus. There is no African Jesus—no more than there is a white, brown, or other exclusive Jesus for whichever ethnic or cultural group.

As the Apostle Paul wrote, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no Jew of Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:27-18


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  • Marian H. Pretti

    The Eagles that rescued Frodo were sent by Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

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