Does Jesus look like what most pictures of Him reveal? Did Jesus have long hair and wear a white robe as the pictures and movies portray? Did He look different from the rest of the Jews or was He no different from those of His day?
Did Jesus Have Long Hair?
I believe that we will be shocked on the day that we see Jesus Christ. Hopefully you will see Him on the day of His return as your Savior and not as your Judge, but we’ll discuss that later but right now we are asking if Jesus had long hair. The Bible is silent on the length of His hair but there is no reason to believe that He had the long, flowing locks of hair that the movies portrayed Him as having or the thousands of pictures that display Him with long hair. Jews of the day never wore their hair long. In fact Paul knew that it was customarily a shame for a man to have long hair (1 Cor 11:14) and knowing that Jesus was a carpenter, having long hair would have gotten in the way of His work.
Jesus: A Man’s Man
Jesus was not the effeminate looking man that most images reveal Him as. He was a carpenter and carpenters in those days not only worked with wood, they worked with stones. They had no power tools of course so the wood had to be cut by using hand tools and great physical labor which must have took long, tedious hours to work with. The wood was not like what we see today; two by fours or four by sixes. They worked with large timbers of roughhewn wood. These timbers had to be cut down by hand and they had to be sawed down into workable sections. They had to be debarked and sanded. And carpenters in those days worked with stone more than they did wooden beams. And these stones were just not simple stepping stones or mortar bricks but more like boulders and these boulders had to be chiseled and cut down to size. Every bit of the carpenters work was extremely labor intensive and so we should realize that Jesus had to have been a big, strong man with great physical strength, yet He kept this strength under control in what is a good description of meekness: Strength under control. So we see that Jesus was a man’s man and may have had the body of a heavy construction worker. He must have been an imposing physical specimen.
Did He Look Different from Fellow Jews?
Time and time again, the New Testament records that Jesus slipped away into the crowds and that the religious officials, when looking for Him, frequently couldn’t find Him? Why was this so? Because Jesus must have looked much like any other rabbi of the day with a robe yes, but not with the long hair that we think He wore. There are dozens of accounts where Jesus simply slipped away and blended into the crowds:
John 5:13 “Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.”
Luke 4:30 “but he slipped away through the crowd and left them.”
John 7:11 “The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?”
John 11:56 “They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?”
If Jesus had a long, white flowing robe and He had long hair, He would have been easy to spot, since historical accounts show that the Jews in Jesus’ day had short hair. He likely had a beard but so did many of the Jewish men in that day. There is every indication that Jesus was hard to pick out of a crowd but when He wanted to be seen, He was able to make Himself visible.
Not Much to Look At
Isaiah described Jesus as looking like an ordinary man and that there nothing special in His appearance that would make Him stand out. Isaiah described Him in 53: 2b “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” He wouldn’t fit in well with the prosperity preachers on TV. He wouldn’t make a popular itinerant preacher today. He wouldn’t be getting millions of hits on YouTube. This is because Jesus was not especially handsome and there was “nothing special in His appearance that would make Him stand out” which matches with the many New Testament references of Him easily slipping through the crowds. He was not desirous to look upon nor had no beauty (in the Jewish vernacular this means that He wasn’t handsome). Jesus’ humanity made Him out to be no different looking than any other man of the day. Otherwise, we really don’t know what Jesus looked like other than He was an ordinary looking man, that He was strong and extremely physically fit and that He was able to blend in with the crowds very easily. The Bible is silent on exactly what He looked like and if the Bible is silent on His exact appearance, then God apparently doesn’t think it’s important for us to know.
We do know exactly what Jesus looks like…at least today. Here is the only appearance of Jesus that anyone needs to know for sure and since it’s revealed in the Bible, God did think this was important enough for us to know. John describes Jesus and when he saw Him he fell down on his face as a dead man as we read in Revelation 1:13-18:
“in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
That is what Jesus looks like today. If you have failed to repent, there is still time but if you don’t, He will appear to you as described above but He will be your Judge and it will not go well with your soul (Rev 20:11-15) but if He is your Savior today, your future is so amazing that I can’t even describe it. Everyone will see Jesus someday and will know exactly what He looks like. It doesn’t matter what He looked like on earth but it will matter for all eternity what He looks like now. Today, He is your Judge or He is your Savior. It’s your choice.
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design