Even though you know it’s impossible, the temptation to know what Jesus really looked like is compelling.
Like many women, I deplore being photographed without make-up, in an unflattering outfit, or from the back–especially when I’m bending over. I know how large my hips are and I don’t need them enlarged on a Facebook post.
Why? Because the size of my backside, the bagginess of my favorite t-shirt, or the uneven shading of my foundation-less face don’t say anything about who I really am. It’s only what you see (passive tense), not what you truly should be looking at (active tense). Unfortunately though we live in a world where “man looks at the outward appearance” (1 Sam 16:7a) pretty much to the exclusion of all else.
Maybe that’s why, in over 1000 pages of the Bible, there are only a few vague references to Jesus’ physical appearance. God knows us too well.
Artists through the centuries—Giotto, da Vinci, El Greco, Rembrandt, Blake, Liebermann and many others–have all left us stunning portraits of “Jesus”. Unfortunately, he’s usually painted, sculpted, molded, or drawn as a W.A.S.P. minus the “P”. Blue eyes and blond hair? Flawless, pale skin? Give me a break. In reality, he probably looked more like the Mid-East jihadist who despise him.
The truth is we do have an authentic portrait of Jesus. And depending on the print-size of your Bible, it’s as little as 85-pages long and found in the first four books of the New Testament. This picture is a much more accurate representation of Jesus than any Renaissance or Baroque painting because it reveals his character—the man he really is.
What’s Your Story?
The thought of others writing our biography is a little alarming not just because of all the dirt they could unearth, but the blood (stained t-shirt), tears (dark circles under our eyes), and weaknesses (our backside) that would be exposed as well. Maybe that’s why we prefer to attach an acceptable photo of ourselves every time we tweet, pin, or post. It shows our “good” side, the one we can control the world seeing.
God, on the other hand, has a very accurate picture of us since “…God looks at the heart” (16:7b.) That could be comforting if we are striving to please him or terrifying if we have a secret life we think no one knows about.
I’m in a confessional-kind of mood here, so I don’t mind telling you that, yes, I did use a filter on my profile headshot. Sure, the picture probably would have looked fine without the filter softening my wrinkles, but I cringe at the age lines that were not there a couple of years ago. One day even a filter won’t help me.
Better “Looking” than Hugh Jackman
With my half-century mark right around the corner, reality is starting to set in. Injuries don’t heal as fast, menopause is running fast on my heels, and–since I’m speaking about heels–mine are as calloused as weathered shoe leather. I plan on living to 100 so I’m not certain how reassuring it is knowing I’m only halfway there.
Inside, though, I’m shedding my spiritual skin again and again. I’m being renewed day by day. I’m looking at Jesus with new eyes every hour. And he’s magnificent. Better “looking” than all of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive put together. Because God looks at the heart and every man’s heart pales in comparison to Jesus’.
So when my hard-earned abs have turned as soft and pale as a uncooked de-boned chicken, when my brown locks are as streaked with gray as a winter sky, and when my face looks like flock of crows did a dance on it, I can take assurance from the promise that God sees my externals but he looks at my heart.
Do you see Jesus (passive tense) or do you really look at him (active tense) every day?
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