A Selfie of Jesus

Nov 13, 2014 5777

Robert Powell in the role of Jesus in the 1977 miniseries, "Jesus of Nazareth."

Is this the face of Jesus? Robert Powell in the role of Jesus in the 1977 miniseries, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

We live in the culture of the selfie, in which people judge each other by how good their latest selfie looks – the ultimate expression of superficiality.

So if Jesus had left us a selfie, what would it be like? What did the real Jesus look like?

Hollywood has not really been very helpful in answering this question. It’s given us blue-eyed Jesus (Jeffrey Hunter , “King of Kings,” 1961), hippie Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, and the non-blinking Jesus (Robert Powell, Jesus of Nazareth,” 1977). That was actually an intentional trick to make Jesus seem otherworldly.

Historians and anthropologists believe that Jesus may have been approximately 5 feet and 1 inch tall, with dark hair and eyes, olive-coloured skin, and a curly/bushy beard. And contrary to modern representations, His hair was probably short and curly, since in the culture back then it as considered dishonourable for men to have long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14).

This is all speculation to some extent, since Jesus never actually took a selfie of himself. However these ideas are based on evidence – largely the skeletal remains of first century Palestinian males that have been found, as well as genetic clues. You may be surprised at how short people were back them, however this height was pretty much standard for males in first century Palestine. You have to remember the much shorter life span for men (about 35 years) and much poorer nutrition.

What can we find out from the Bible? Very little. The prophet Isaiah tells us that there was nothing especially attractive about what Jesus looked like (Isaiah 53:2). When Judas led the mob into the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, obviously Jesus had no special physical features to set him apart from his disciples, because Judas had to point Jesus out to the mob with a kiss (Matthew 26:47–50.) It seems reasonable to have expected that the gospel writers would have highlighted any special physical feature that Jesus may have had – but apparently there was nothing worth mentioning. He looked just like his disciples.

Perhaps the reason for that is because Jesus never wanted us to actually focus on His physical appearance. He wanted us to focus on more important things.

This is in line with the whole message of Scripture that while people look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God values the heart most of all . He loves you from the inside out. What you look like has nothing to do with it – not your race, not your wardrobe, not your physical features, and not even your piercings or tattoos. I’m glad that God loves me for who I am, and not for whomever society thinks I should be.

The bottom line is that it’s not what Jesus looked like, but what he did that’s most important. That’s probably why the early Christians didn’t spend any time at all trying to record Jesus’ physical appearance in art. But they sure had a lot to say about his life and message, and especially about his death and resurrection!

Jesus’ selfie would have probably been taken with some completely unacceptable people in a very non-desirable location.

And Jesus wouldn’t have bothered with selfies anyway. He was selfless. He was more interested in you than in Himself.

Eliezer Gonzalez

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