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COLUMN: How did Jesus really look?

COLUMN: How did Jesus really look?

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Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin

“He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2, HCSB)

With the exception of the above verse, the Bible tells us very little about how Jesus looked. If that’s the case, then where did we get that picture of Jesus that hangs over some of our mantles?

While there is no biblical support for the picture that our minds conjure up when we think about Jesus, some theologians claim that it came from eyewitness accounts.

In his book, The Resurrection Tomb, E. Raymond Capt quotes from a letter written by Publius Lentrelus, a resident of Judea during Jesus’ time. It first appeared in the writings of Saint Anselm of Canterbury during the 11th Century. It reads in part:

“He is a tall man, well-shaped, and of an amiable and reverend aspect; his hair of a color that can hardly be matched, falling into graceful curls, waving about and very agreeable, crouching upon his shoulders, parted on the crown of the head, running as a stream to the front after fashion of the Nazarites. His forehead high, large and imposing; his cheeks without spot or wrinkle, beautiful with a lovely red; his nose and mouth formed with exquisite symmetry; his beard, and of a color suitable to his hair, reaching below his chin and parted in the middle like a fork; his eyes bright blue, clear and serene.”

There is also a letter that some theologians purport to have been written by Pontius Pilate to his ruler, Tiberias Caesar. Again, the description reminds me of the picture I remember seeing in my Granny’s house:

“A young man appeared in Galilee preaching with humble unction, a new law in the name of the God that sent him. At first, I was apprehensive that his design was to stir up the people against the Romans, but my fears were soon dispelled. Jesus of Nazareth spoke rather as a friend of the Romans than of the Jews.”

One day, I observed in the midst of a group of people a young man who was leaning against a tree, calmly addressing the multitude. I was told it was Jesus. This I could easily suspect so great was the difference between him and those who were listening to him. His golden-colored hair and beard gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about 30 years of age.

Never have I seen a more sweeter or more serene countenance. What a contrast between him and his bearers with their black beards and tawny complexions.

Unwilling to interrupt him by my presence, I continued my walk but signified to my secretary to join the group and listen. Later, my secretary reported that never had he seen in the works of all the philosophers anything that compared to the teachings of Jesus. He told me that Jesus was neither seditious nor rebellious, so we extended to him our protection. He was at liberty to act, to speak, to assemble and to address the people. This unlimited freedom provoked the Jews-not the poor but the rich and powerful!”

I certainly can’t vouch for the authenticity of these so-called letters. But you know what? It really doesn’t matter what Jesus looked like. God has never been concerned with what’s on the outside. He looks at the heart. And his expectations for us are the very same that they were for his son. He expects us to allow his Glory to shine on our faces. And when we allow his “Sonshine” to show up in our lives, then we all look a little more like Jesus.

Is it any wonder why Jesus said to His Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do”? (John 17:4)


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