‘Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation’
When we think of Jesus does an image appear in our minds? If we look at art that depicts Jesus we see that He is presented in many different ways depending on where you are in the world. If you are in Belgium Jesus looks like a Belgian, if you are in America, Jesus looks like an American, if you are in Ethiopia he looks like an Ethiopian.
This could be seen as a strength, It becomes easier to relate to Jesus if we imagine him like ourselves, it becomes easier to do mission to other places and present Jesus in different ways.
But what did Jesus actually look like? Have you noticed that in the Gospels it doesn’t give a physical description of what Jesus looks like, in fact in the New Testament, there isn’t really a physical description of anyone, Jesus, Peter, Paul Pontius Pilate. At the time people were less interested in recording that information.
We can make some educated guesses about Jesus’ physical appearance. From skeletons dug up dating back to the time of Jesus, we can see that men would be about 5ft 4-6in. Jesus would have course have had middle eastern features. He would have had a short beard. A lot of art show Jesus with long hair, but almost certainly He would have had fairly short hair. The reason being is that there was a Jewish group called the Nazarites, who would take a vow not to cut there hair or beard and not drink any wine, and we see from the Gospels several different times that Jesus drank wine and so, therefore, would have cut his hair so as not look like the Nazirites.
But we know more about what Jesus wore then his physical appearance. For example in Mark:
“Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes (stolai), and to have salutations in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets”
We can be pretty sure since Jesus makes a point of criticising the scribes in long robes that Jesus didn’t wear a long robe. Long robes were a status symbol of the rich and powerful. Jesus would have worn tunic down to the knees like most normal people of the time.
Now I find this very interesting, for some it’s exciting to look at because they want to get to a more authentic Jesus for others its a bit more difficult because we have grown up seeing certain depictions of Jesus in art and in our churches, and we might have a particular image in our minds as we pray and read the bible.