What Jesus looked like

What do you see when you think of Jesus?

Fair skin, long brownish hair, beard and mustache, sort of an effeminate-looking face?

For whatever reason—I think because of a picture that was in the center of my Dad’s Bible when I was young—that’s what I think of.

He’s never smiling in my imagination, and I have to try hard to think of his face marked by laughter.

It’s not that I think of him as angry, because I can’t visualize that very well either. In fact, he hardly ever shows any emotion at all. He’s solemn, stoic.

I doubt my imagination is accurate. Here are a few thoughts:

1. He was tougher than those pictures. As a carpenter, he worked with his hands, probably with stones and chisels and hammers. If you had examined the Lord’s hands you would’ve found callouses, and his shoulders would be hardened by months of swinging a hammer and picking up stones.

2. He probably laughed more than we think. He performed his first miracle at a wedding, a place of laughing and rejoicing. Children—usually frightened by stern unsmiling men—were drawn to him. I doubt Jesus held those babies without smiling at them.

3. He got hot under the collar. Jesus didn’t stoically face the corruption of his world. He wasn’t the passive, let-things-slide kind of teacher that seems to be reflected in many paintings. He ran the moneychangers out of the temple courtyard, and he excoriated the “scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” in Matthew 23.

He was someone who faced all the temptations that we face. He had normal human emotions. He probably got tickled sometimes, and at other times he had to fight to keep his temper under control.

Sometimes I fear we’ve been so afraid of neglecting his divinity that we’ve forgotten his humanity.

He got upset, tired, mad, confused, and frustrated.

He laughed, scowled, and cried.

He was a person like us.

That’s why—when he faced all of life’s temptations without sinning—he was qualified to take humanity’s place on the cross.

Because he was a man, he could take your place, my place.

And he saved us.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

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