Appearance according to Biblical Narratives
According to Biblical narratives, Jesus has a rather vague physical appearance. There are descriptions of him that are different from a generic portrayal. Matthew records that he had a face as “shining like the sun,” although what that precisely indicates is up for debate. For instance, some commentators suggest that his features were filled with joy and grace, while others take this as a literal indication of Jesus’s appearance. In fact, none of the attempts to describe him physically are straightforward; he is almost always noted as being above and beyond what is humanly attainable.
Revelation 1:12-17 holds the most specific description of Jesus’s looks, depicting him as having seven stars in his right hand, carried robes that were white and brightly illuminated, with a face like a sun that sparkled. However, it should be noted that the passage is written symbolically, so its literal interpretation is debatable. Regardless, it does indicate that Jesus does not have the same physical characteristics as other humans.
John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation 19 is remarkable. In this passage, Jesus appears with eyes that flash like fire, wearing a robe that is sprinkled with blood and has a golden belt to keep it closed. His face is like the sun, a sight so brilliant that his enemies fall backward and fall down flat. This is a depiction of Jesus that is quite extraordinary, though we cannot be sure what actually occurred.
When Jesus ascends to heaven, he is described in the Bible as having two angels helping him in order to carry him away. His physical form is not specified in this episode, yet it is likely that he did not have a fully human body just as he isn’t revealed to have one in the other Bible passages.
Luke 24 reveals Jesus’s physical form after the resurrection. It is noted that he ate with the disciples, and that they at first had difficulty recognizing him. There is also an indication that he had a physical body, as the disciples felt his body and his hands and feet. Despite this physical evidence, it is not stated that Jesus actually looked like other people. Could it be that he looked a bit different, or was there a discrepancy between what he looked like and what his disciples thought he was supposed to look like?
Corinthians 15 also mentions a physical body that Jesus had. He is described as having an outer form of a man, which may suggest that he had legs and arms, a head, and other human body parts. It is also stated that Jesus had flesh and bones, which further suggests that he had human physical attributes. However, the context of the passage may lead to the conclusion that Jesus was not the same as us in his physicality.
Jesus in Art and Imagery
Artistic depictions of Jesus usually carry with them the features of a white man with fair features, long hair and a beard, and a compassionate expression on his face. Though art has played a significant role in how we visualize Jesus, experts believe that this type of interpretation is most likely inaccurate. Suzy Smith, a professor of art history from the University of Pennsylvania, points out that Jesus was likely a handsome man with darker skin tone, which corresponds to his Middle Eastern origins. Other interpretations focus less on the aesthetic and more on Jesus’s spiritual role.
The Philosophical Delicatessen, a blog written by Dr Ahmed El Mesbahi, suggests that the Bible does not provide a definite answer to what Jesus looked like, which in turn makes this issue a matter of faith. Though some artists attempt to capture a physical image of Jesus, for Dr El Mesbahi this is a futile endeavor as it challenges people to appreciate Jesus in non-visual ways. Some turned to the Shroud of Turin, a cloth believed to bear Jesus’s image, to provide a physical reference to him. However, its authenticity is still heavily debated in academia and by the Catholic Church, rendering it inconclusive.
Historians and theologians have often tried to understand what Jesus looked like based on the Bible. Yet, because descriptions of his physical features are not clear, there is difficulty in getting a concrete answer. Ultimately, how Jesus looked is largely a matter of faith, as any physical image is unlikely to accurately capture the spirituality associated with him. This is not to say that what Jesus looked like does not matter; rather, it is much more important to understand the spiritual and moral teachings that the Bible has given us. Nonetheless, it appears that Jesus was most likely of Middle Eastern origin and perhaps had beautiful features, though his exact physical characteristics can never truly be known.
Journey of Jesus
The Bible records the journey of Jesus which is of two-fold image, where his personal life remains shrouded in mystery and at the same time, his journey powers and encourages believers. In the opening verses of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is met by John the Baptist and starts a campaign of healing and promoting gospel in Galilee. He performs numerous miracles, performs teachings and is followed by disciples. Jesus enters Jerusalem in a very dramatic fashion and makes his stand against the rulers.
Throughout the gospel, Jesus is shown extending mercy, grace, love and forgiveness to the sick, marginalized and to those who come to Him in faith. He emphasizes the importance of finding hope, even in the midst of despair. And in His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus defines the way a Christian should live and how they must identify themselves totally with Jesus’s mission of love, charity, and justice.
At the end of his ministry, Jesus was betrayed and arrested, and before a Jewish court, Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, the Son of God. He was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death on the cross. Soon afterwards, the resurrection of Jesus takes place and Jesus is seen validating His future kingdom and proclaiming the joy of salvation to believers.
Emphasis on Possibilities
The New Testament is full of optimism and hope as it conveys an emphasis on possibilities. The gospels center around Jesus Christ, the incarnation of love and hope for the world. In the challenging times of political empires, the church embraces Jesus’s message of faith and hope relentlessly; which is key for its physical and spiritual power. He embodies the assurance of a better life, the possibility of redemption and liberation, the power of faith, and the unity of all people in their shared common identity as children of God.
The mission of Jesus Christ is to spread the love, forgiveness, mercy and peace to all people exercised through his teaching, healing, and miracles. His words speak of a universal truth that transcends any boundaries usually imposed by divisions such as language, race, or nationality. Jesus is the keystone of Christianity, representing a model of how to live a life of faith and service, of justice and joy. In the end, what counts is not physical appearance but rather, the essence of Jesus’s mission which is to bring hope and lasting peace to the world.
Symbolic Explanations of Jesus
The Bible provides several symbolic explanations of Jesus. For example, His human nature is symbolically represented by his mother, Mary, who bore him and nurtured him in his physical form. In the same way, Jesus’s divine nature is symbolically expressed through his father, Joseph, who is seen as the symbol of strength and power. Together, they represent Jesus’s dual nature and remind believers of the divine and human sides of Jesus that are essential for His role as the Redeemer.
The Bible also features Jesus as a sacrificial lamb, symbolizing His sacrificial act of love and service. This imagery is further further evidenced when Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he lays down his life for others. In this way, Jesus shows that only through a sacrificial attitude can we fully experience the love and grace of God.
The Bible also presents Jesus as a life-giving vine. This image is highlighted in the Gospel of John, where Jesus states, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman” (John 15:1). This analogy shows Jesus as the vine that produces life and growth, while the Father is the gardener who takes care of the vine. The image of Jesus as the vine connects to his role in empowering and sustaining believers. By being on the vine, believers can “bear much fruit” (John 15:5).
Jesus as a Communicator
The Bible emphasizes Jesus as a communicator of truth, helping us understand our roles and responsibilities during our earthly journeys. During his years of public ministry, Jesus focused on connecting people with God and redefining the law in terms of grace and mercy. Jesus used parables and symbolic language to connect with and teach people, and to emphasize his point.
The famous parable of the lost sheep is a great example of the power of communication to impart lessons of love, hope, and grace. Jesus presents Himself in this parable as the Good Shepherd who goes after the lost sheep with patience, kindness and care, and brings it safely back home. This parable speaks of the provision of God, the importance of perspective, and the power of the gospel.
Jesus also demonstrates wise communication through His use of ethical metaphors. For example, He taught people about the power of prayer with the parable of the persistent widow asking for justice from an unjust judge too busy to care (Luke 18:1-8). This parable reflects Jesus’s understanding of communication and teaching a lesson about the importance of prayer.
Jesus and His Relationship with Humanity
Jesus had a unique relationship with humanity. He understood the desires of the human heart, longings that are common in people from all backgrounds, cultures, and ages. Jesus was a bridge between the visible and the invisible, bringing people closer to the transcendent while being present in the world.
The gospels are accounts of Jesus’s ministry in which his love and care for people shines through. Jesus was a primary figure of humility, kindness, and compassion. He was also full of mercy and grace; He hurt with the people He touched and healed. Throughout the gospels, Jesus shows an unwavering love, acceptance, and respect for people of all stripes. He accepted everyone, regardless of their position in society. The Jesus of the gospels expresses an unconditional care and concern for all people.
Thus, Jesus had a unique relationship with humanity. He embraced it fiercely, extending mercy, grace and love to the least of them, instructing others to do the same. He championed justice and encouraged people to live a life full of hope, resilience and respect. Though we may never know what Jesus looked like, the Biblical text suggests that his character was far more important than his physical form.