Bible Trivia

What did Jesus look like?


Your Bible trivia questions answered by Phil Logos...

What did Jesus look like?

How marvellous it would be to behold the face of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, to gaze into the eyes that witnessed the needs of humanity and responded with love. But what did Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer, truly look like? Alas, the Bible doesn’t give us a physical description, and the earliest images of Christ only appeared several centuries after His earthly ministry. However, drawing upon historical, cultural, and archaeological insights, we can venture a reasoned conjecture.

It’s imperative to remember that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in the region of Judea. He was a Jew, and His appearance would have undoubtedly reflected the Semitic features common among His contemporaries. Isaiah’s prophetic book gives us a hint, not about His attractiveness, but rather the lack of it. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Jesus was likely ordinary looking, a man you could lose in a crowd, not standing out like the religious leaders of the day.

Now, here’s a delightful trivia nugget for you. Did you know that the average height of a Semitic male during the era of Jesus was about 5 feet 5 inches? Therefore, contrary to the towering figure often portrayed in artworks, Jesus was probably not particularly tall by today’s standards.

Furthermore, we know that Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:3), a profession that required significant physical labour. This would suggest that Jesus was robust and physically fit, accustomed to the rigours of manual labour.

Let’s talk about His face, the subject of so many artistic renditions. With His Jewish heritage, Jesus likely had a darker complexion, a far cry from the fair-skinned figure that graces many a stained-glass window. His eyes, too, would have been dark, a common trait in the Middle East.

And His hair? Here, we can turn to the Apostle Paul who offers advice to the Corinthians that, culturally, it was disgraceful for a man to have long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14). Given that Jesus was known for fulfilling the law (Matthew 5:17), it’s reasonable to assume He would conform to the societal norms of His day, likely sporting short, possibly curly hair and a traditional Jewish beard.

Yet, focusing only on the physical likeness risks missing the essence of Jesus’ appearance. Beyond the contours of His face or the stature of His form, His countenance was marked by an unparalleled characteristic – a blend of grace and truth that drew people to Him. His eyes would have sparkled with compassion, radiating the boundless love of God. Here was a man who wept at the tomb of Lazarus, who looked at the rich young man and loved him (Mark 10:21). His gaze was one of empathy, understanding, and immeasurable love.

Moreover, when the Bible does describe Jesus’ appearance, it’s often metaphorically, reflecting His divine nature and mission. He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12), the “lamb of God” (John 1:29), the “good shepherd” (John 10:11). These descriptors tell us less about His physical attributes and more about His character – His goodness, His sacrificial love, His guidance and care for those who follow Him.

In the end, whether Jesus was tall or short, handsome or ordinary, is less important than what His life represents: God’s immeasurable love for us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Here lies the true marvel of Christ’s appearance – it was the physical manifestation of a love so profound that it willingly bore the cross for the salvation of humanity.

In the book of Revelation, John gives us a symbolic description of the risen Christ: hair white like wool, eyes like a flame of fire, feet like bronze, and voice like rushing waters (Revelation 1:14-15). However, it’s crucial to note that these attributes are not meant to give us a realistic portrait. Instead, they express Jesus’ divine authority, purity, judgement, and the power of His word.

Still, wouldn’t it be a delightful mystery to finally uncover? The true face of Jesus! Yet, remember this, friends: When we ultimately see Jesus, it won’t be His physical appearance that will captivate us. It will be the radiance of His love, the beauty of His scarred hands and feet – the marks of His sacrifice – the aura of His divine grace.

We may not know the precise shape of Jesus’ nose or the colour of His hair, but we know His heart – a heart full of mercy, compassion, and love for all of humanity. We know His spirit – humble, gentle, and filled with an unwavering commitment to justice and righteousness. We know His purpose – to seek and save the lost, to heal the broken, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

So, dear friends, while we may remain fascinated by the historical and earthly appearance of Jesus, let us remember that the most vital aspect of Jesus’ appearance is what it signifies – God with us, God for us, God loving us. This, indeed, is the most beautiful and profound aspect of Christ’s appearance. No physical description could ever capture the depth of this divine love made visible in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour!