Well, apparently we now know what Jesus looks like—and it’s not Brad Pitt.
A fairly new field of science has emerged called forensic anthropology. Although we have no physical remains or DNA of Jesus to sample—and we won’t since Jesus is alive and currently sitting at the right hand of the Father—scientists use other evidence to give us an idea of what Jesus looked like.
British scientists teamed up with Israeli archaeologists. They started with first-century skulls found in the area around Jerusalem. Then they created a computer simulation of the full skull that even allowed for the addition of soft tissue and skin. (If you’ve ever had a MRI, this is a similar imaging process.)
Wait. How can they derive all that from a skull? They pulled from other nerdy areas of science: genetics, osteology (the study of bones), dentistry, and what we know about the nutrition and climate of the first century.
What about His eyes, skin, and hair color? The scientists studied drawings of people found in archaeological digs. And based on other skeletal remains, the average man was 5’1″ tall and about 110 pounds. As a carpenter, Jesus would’ve been muscular. [Source]
Could all this be true of the Son of God? Yes, because Jesus was a typical Jew. He didn’t stand out in the crowd—and He certainly didn’t have a halo the size of a ’57 Buick hubcap that shouted, “Hey! I’m the Son of God!”
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2).
How ordinary was Jesus’ appearance? On the night He was arrested, Judas had to walk up and kiss Him so that the soldiers wouldn’t grab the wrong man. Jesus blended in with the others.
So there you have it—but I could’ve told you what Jesus looks like without computers, skulls, and modeling clay.
If you want to know what Jesus looks like, look in the mirror.
If you are a follower of Christ, you are the face of Jesus to those around you.
- We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Although we have marred that image through our sin, when we come to Christ, He begins His work in our lives “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). We are being renewed in the image of God (Col. 3:10).
- We are the body of Christ (1 Cor,. 12:27).
- We are the ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). The president appoints an ambassador to represent the United States and its interests in another country. If the ambassador says something bone-headed, the other country is not mad at him; they are made at the United States. To that country, the ambassador is the face of the United States. In the same way, what we say and do reflects on Christ, the One we represent.
When people look at you, what does Jesus look like? Are people repelled by the Jesus they see in you—or are they attracted to Him? Personally, I want to be the spitting image of His love and grace.
Pass this post along and encourage others to let people see Jesus in them.
For a printable version: click here.
This post supports the study “A Passion to Share the Gospel” in Bible Studies for Life.
That may be what the Lord did look like, but this is what He looks like now:
“I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace…and His face was like the sun shining in its strength,” Revelation 1:13-16
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God,” Revelation 19:11-13.
Thanks for sharing! I love the vision of Jesus in Revelation 1. John, who walked closely with Jesus for three years now saw Jesus in all His majesty and glory. In the next verse (v. 17), John gave his reaction to seeing the One he knew and loved so well: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” In all His power and glory, Jesus spoke to the disciple He loved, “Do not be afraid.”
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The forensic estimation of Jesus as a typical 1st century Jew is accurate biologically if both parents were 1st century Jews. We know his mother was. However, we believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and therefore the origins of the paternal set of His genetic information is unknown. This introduces a variable that allows for Him to look completely different or at least for many possibilities.
Thanks for sharing. Your point is well taken, but since Jesus’ physical characteristics came solely from his mother—who was a 1st-century Jew—we can still assume he looked like a typical 1st-century Jew. Add Isaiah 53:2 to the equation, and we have the Messiah who “blended in.” I love the picture of Jesus now, both as the majestic, sovereign King and as displayed on earth through the body of Christ.
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