When I was a young girl, I had a mad crush on guys like David Cassidy, Davy Jones, and the Bay City Rollers. When my daughter was that age, the Backstreet Boys were all the rage. Now the little girls squeal over Justin Bieber. Stay with me now – I'm going somewhere with this.
Have you ever stopped to think about the depictions of Jesus with pale skin (a/k/a Caucasian) with blue eyes and either blond or light brown wavy hair? (See the picture above.) They make Him look like a dreamy pop star. The artists obviously didn’t read Isaiah 53:2(b): “He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
In other words, Jesus was a plain Joe, like most of the rest of us. He didn’t look like a pop star. Since the human part of Jesus was Jewish, He had an olive complexion, brown eyes and brown or black hair. Interestingly, Popular Mechanics magazine published an article a few years ago titled "The Real Face of Jesus," describing how forensic anthropologists had taken what was known about Jesus and the time and area where He lived and reconstructed what they thought He might have looked like. They came up with this:
Personally, I think this was what the apostle Peter might have looked like, maybe because this depiction looks like James Farentino, who played Peter in the Jesus of Nazareth TV mini-series.
Since there was no photography back in Jesus’ time and the Jews were not supposed to have graven images (see Exodus 20:4, KJV), how did the artists know what Jesus looked like in order to depict Him? Did the European artists use themselves as models to paint Him? An interesting theory is found in the book The Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical and Archeological Evidence by Mark Antonacci, which is about the Shroud of Turin. Antonacci reports that starting in the 6th century, the Shroud was folded in such a way that only the part of the cloth depicting the face was shown and artists copied the face on the Shroud (then known as the Mandylion) to paint portraits of Jesus.
Let's look at Isaiah 52:3(b) again. “He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Per dictionary.com, the definition of "comeliness" means pleasing in appearance; attractive; fair. Jesus' holiness attracted people and not His looks. We are not to have a crush on Jesus like we do on a pop star. God doesn't want us to love Jesus because He was cute. He wants us to love Jesus because He made the ultimate sacrifice for us by dying on the cross for our sins. We are to love Jesus because He is our Savior and Redeemer and the Son of God.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Thanks for reading! See you next time!
Mark Antonacci, The Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical and Archeological Evidence (2000), M. Evans and Company, Chapter Seven, "The History of the Shroud of Turin," p. 132-133. Note: Even if you don't agree that the Shroud of Turin is Jesus' burial cloth (the author makes a great argument that it is), the history of how the Shroud got from place to place and ended up in Turin is interesting in and of itself.
"The Real Face of Jesus" by Mike Fillon, Popular Mechanics, December 7, 2002, http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/forensics/1282186