Was Jesus a blonde haired blue-eyed white guy with long flowing hair like a shampoo model, or was he most likely a rugged black man with tightly wound hair like lamb's wool and skin like bronze? Did he look like the Caucasian Jews that we see today or did he look more like the Ancient Egyptians he was around during the first year(s) of his life when He and his parents fled to Egypt? To all of these questions, I give a resounding no. The simple fact of the matter is that the Bible does not give a clear description of what Jesus actually looked like. Anyone who ever claims to have a definitive answer has almost certainly made assumptions that are based on their own biases or popular culture or has misinterpreted scripture. Even when we see artistic expressions in art, film, and television, it is safe to conclude that they are inaccurate and should communicate the reality of Jesus’s existence rather than a clear depiction of what he looked like. So why even discuss this question?
There are several reasons why I think this is a very important question.
- First, as people created in the image of God, we rightly have a longing to seek God and come to know Him. Asking what Jesus looked like is a natural outflow from this longing.
- Second, it is undeniable that the race of Jesus has been (and in some cases still is) a point of division for many.Bringing clarity to this question helps to destroy these divisions, counter error, and drive people to unity and faith in Jesus.
- Third, it is important to discuss Jesus’s race, but only to the point of us concluding that Jesus transcends racial divisions and classification (Galatians 3:28) and for healthy biblical scholarship.
- Fourth, concerning Jesus in film, it is important to visually grasp the depths of our Savior’s life and death. Although no actor will ever completely or correctly characterize Jesus, film and the arts must depict reality, including the reality of a risen Savior.
- Fifth, I personally find that visual representations strengthen what I read in the Bible.
Having said this, I want to be clear. I am not suggesting that it is wrong to infer Jesus’s race. What I am saying however is that Jesus, rather than his race, must be the focus. So, let’s address the question and the implications thereafter. Having researched the question, here is what we know about Jesus: He was an ethnic Jew and most likely resembled the people of that time and region. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us (Isaiah 53:2). Other than this, there isn’t any other information by which we can definitively infer Jesus’s race.
So, in the end, if our pursuit of the answer to this question leads us to unsolvable disputes rather than a clear pursuit of Christ, then we have missed the point. Jesus’s race doesn’t really matter. What really matters is that he looked like someone that was beaten beyond recognition to take the punishment that you and I deserve. What really matters is that He then died for your sins. What really matters is that He rose from the dead proving that He was God. What really matters is that He now stands ready to save anyone that should call on him.
Concerning this question, I would encourage us all to take to heart Philippians 2:5-11.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
God bless you.
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