What Did Jesus Look Like?
By: Mike Stokes
There are pictures, paintings, sculptures, and figures of Christ hanging in churches and homes everywhere. When I look at these portrayals produced during the course of church history, I presume that they are declarations of love because they present the Lord in romanticized physical beauty. He is depicted with delicate feminine skin tones, and in silk robes woven with gold threads. Yet what did He really look like? Today nobody knows because the oldest representation of Him is from 375 AD and is not an eyewitness account.
The Gospels suggest a more rustic figure of Christ in keeping with His revolutionary style, as He overturns the tables of money changers in the Temple courts. His disciples followed a radical leader who said he had not come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34), they were zealots, radicals, activist, and sons of thunder (Mark 3:17); and Peter was known as Bar-Jonah (Son of Jonah), a rebel who reached for his sword, and used it, when Jesus was arrested (Matthew 16:17). Jesus denounced Herod as a fox (Luke 3:32); He even presents the people with an ultimatum, that to follow Him they have to–if necessary–hate father and mother (Luke 14:26).
The Gospels presents a Jesus that is anything but soft and silky. He was only gentle and mild when He was dealing with the sick and outcast; in all other situations He was a firebrand. The Roman government tolerated prostitution, homosexuality, and drugs, but not criticism of the state. Yet like Elijah, Jesus spoke out against the injustice of the state and the religious establishment.
So, Jesus was anything but a soft, pathetic Savior, for one day He will “rule the nations with a rod of iron” (Revelations 2:27). The beautiful image of Jesus that we carry in our hearts is simply a sign of our love for Him. However, in reality, He fits in better within the halls of a rebel revolutionary force, than in the Vatican.