Was Jesus effeminate?

The mental image I have of Jesus is one I got years ago from a children’s Bible storybook, I think.

You’ve probably seen it before, and pretty much everything about it is wrong.

He’s fair-skinned, which he wasn’t.

He’s long-haired, which he probably wasn’t.

He’s effeminate, which he most certainly wasn’t.

Why do artists so often make Jesus look soft?

Even Jim Caviezel as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ looks weak.

I’m pretty sure Jesus had more backbone than most artistic renderings display.

Take this story, for example.

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city (Mark 11:15-19).

This bothered Jesus, probably because of two issues:

These men were using the temple as a place to make money, distorting its primary purpose.

And they had effectively stolen the only place in the temple where non-Jews could worship by turning the court of the Gentiles into a kind of bazaar. No one could worship in all that chaos.

Whatever the exact reason, Jesus ran them out.

By the way, this is not the Jesus of the murals.

The effeminate, picture-Bible Jesus wouldn’t ever do something like this, and if he tried, no one would take him seriously.

But these guys did.

Before they knew what was happening, the carpenter’s son from Nazareth had put them out on the street.

The man they saw that day didn’t have soft features and tender hands.

He had a scowl on his face and determination in his eyes.

I love how the Jesus of the Bible responded appropriately to each unique situation, sometimes with kindness, sometimes with firmness.

His hands were soft enough to cradle the babies and calloused enough to convince these men he meant business.

His spirit was gentle enough to extend compassion to an adulterous woman but firm enough to show little patience for people who willingly distorted God’s house of worship.

It’s important for us to have a well-rounded image of Jesus as well.

He was tender and compassionate with the weak and sinful.

But he was firm and unyielding to those who obstinately persisted in sin.

And I think those two pictures of Jesus will be present when he returns at the end of time.

He will extend grace and mercy to those who’ve walked with him in humility.

But those in rebellion will see the same Jesus these money-changers saw.

I’d just as soon never face that Jesus.

3 thoughts on “Was Jesus effeminate?”

  1. So good to hear someone make these comments. I wish someone would do an artist rendering that got it right. He was not comely to look upon I think one scripture says and yet they make him so physically beautiful. Those artists obviously didn’t look at the scriptures for their inspiration- most likely they believed what someone told them He looked like. I do think he would have been a very muscular man because of his line of work. I think the carpenters actually had to do much physical exertion to perform the carpentry skills? Would be a great sermon to have someone elaborate on what a carpenter’s job actually was like then and relate it to the scriptures you mentioned plus many more. I think the more we understand about the life then, the better we get the language and parables, etc. 

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I suppose there’s a reason God chose not to tell us what Jesus looked like. We have only some hints in Isaiah 53 and then some guesses based on the bone structure of first-century Jews. There’s some interesting stuff online about a reconstruction of a Jewish skull from around the first century, and if it’s accurate at all, the typical rendering is way off target.

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