“Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).’”
We’ve all seen those pictures of Jesus, with long hair, sometimes blond, and with blue eyes. He often has a European or western appearance in those portraits. Many of the old movies reemphasized these stereotypes. While no one alive truly knows what Jesus looked like it is highly unlikely such a portrayal is anywhere close to what the Son of David and of Abraham (Matthew 1:1), the King of the Jews (Matthew 27:11) actually looked like.
But now, using forensic technology, an anatomical artist has come forward with a representation of what Jesus really looked like. By examining skulls of first century Jewish men, computerized x-rays, and drawings depicting the average man from Galilee of that time he has produced the image of Jesus for the world to see.1
In reality this new scientific portrait is likely more accurate to the Lord’s physical appearance than those projected by western artists. However, the Bible very rarely provides physical details about a person focusing instead on their actions and character. Hair and eye color are not mentioned. Occasionally, when such features are important to the narrative, a person’s height (Goliath; 1 Samuel 17:4), or weight (Eglon; Judges 3:17) are given. Samuel looked at outward appearances and Jahweh explicitly told him that is how men look at others, but God looks at what’s on the inside (1 Samuel 16:7).
Knowing this it shouldn’t be surprising that the Bible does not provide for us a portrait of Jesus’ actual looks except to say that “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him (Isaiah 53:2).” The picture painted of Jesus by Scripture is all about His character and deeds. He is the “image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).” He is compassionate (Matthew 9:36), and a healer (Matthew 4:24). He is life-giver (John 11:43). He is a savior (Matthew 14:30-31. He is God (John 20:28, John 1:1, Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, Revelation 1:11).
If you are looking for a physical representation in what Jesus actually looked like you are missing the point. It is in His character in which He manifests God. Jesus told Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9b). “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, himself God, the one who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (John 1:18 Mounce). Jesus provides for us the very picture of God Himself.
Once we understand that we are to see what Jesus looks like through His character and deeds as recorded in the Bible we are ready to take another big step in comprehending His appearance. Christians are being made to look like Him each day (Romans 8:29). Paul wrote, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).
If the world is to truly know what Jesus looks like it won’t be by the forensic work of an anatomical artist. It will be because we partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and act as “imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1).” We were created in His image after all (Genesis 1:27). It is in this way that Jesus wants the world to see Him. He’s asked you and I to show them (Matthew 5:16).
“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength (Revelation 1:13-16).”