What Did Jesus Look Like?
Many believe that The Shroud of Turin is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ, and that the man seen in the cloth's image (in photograph) is that of The Lord. Apart from (disputed) carbon-dating tests that show it to be only about 600 years old, there is at least one other strong proof that The Savior is not the man in the cloth which is idolized by millions of people.
The Bible makes no specific description of what Jesus Christ looked like, and there are no known images of Him in existence, such as their are, for example, for Roman emperors (e.g. Emperor Nero), or actual "faces from the past" that can be seen with the Egyptian Mummies. There are however some very good indications of what He did, and did not, look like -
- There was nothing unusual about His appearance
Throughout the Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, people made no mention of something different about how He looked. If anything, people wondered how such an ordinary-looking man could be The Savior. John The Baptist would not have known that his cousin was The Savior (their mothers, Mary and Elizabeth were related) unless an angel had told him just before Jesus' baptism at age 30 (John 1:33). The mob that came to arrest Him The Fateful Night could not tell Him apart from Peter or John or any of the others - Judas Iscariot had to actually point Him out (Matthew 26:47-49) (see Why Did He Do It?), and even then Jesus had to identify Himself, twice, to those who demanded Him by Name as He stood right in front of them in the bright light of their torches (John 18:3-9).
- He had a natural, rugged appearance
The Lord did hard outside physical labor, with Joseph in Nazareth, until He was about 30 years old. Back then, the building trade involved very strenuous physical labor with heavy stone and lumber, without any sort of power tools or mechanical digging equipment that are in use today. Unlike many religious pictures that portray Jesus as a pale, skinny, effeminate man with long hair and wearing a flowing white or pink robe (all of which may well be far closer to what Satan looks like), Christ could have looked nothing like that. His appearance would definitely have been that of a tanned, muscular, physically-fit young man dressed in durable and practical clothing - which made Him indistinguishable from the "blue-collar" Fishermen who were with Him when He was arrested. The prophet Isaiah confirms His ordinary appearance -
"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions [see How Did Jesus Christ Die?], He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:2-5)
- Jesus Christ did not have long hair
Hair styles and socially-acceptable length have varied tremendously over the ages, sometimes very short, sometimes very long. Most religious artists portray Christ with long hair. The man in the Shroud of Turin also has long hair. But did Jesus have long hair?
The apostle Paul (see On The Road To Damascus) actually saw Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1). Paul, a trustworthy man who wrote a large part of the New Testament, knew exactly what The Lord looked like. In 1 Corinthians 11:14, Paul wrote, "if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him." It's quite unthinkable that Paul would have made such a statement if Jesus Christ had long hair. How could anything about The Lord be called disgraceful?
Fact Finder: After His resurrection, what did Jesus Christ look like when he appeared to the apostle John when he was on The Island Of Patmos?
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