Q: #9. What did Jesus look like?
A: The Bible reveals very little about Jesus’ appearance, and I believe this is deliberate because God has said we are not to focus on outward appearances (Jn 7:24)(1 Sam 16:7). We should always look at what is on the inside of a person, and not how they look on the outside.
That being said, however, I believe it is safe to say that Jesus looked nothing like the pictures we have of Him today (i.e. white, long brown hair, blue eyes, slight physical build). We can make some fairly safe assumptions based on the Bible, history, and archaeological finds (bones, pictures, etc…) from that time period. For instance, skeletal remains found from that time period show that people in the area where Jesus lived were around five to five and a half feet tall on average, and weighed just over one hundred pounds. We know from history, and even from people today, that those who live in that part of the world tend to have darker, olive colored skin and dark colored eyes. It is reasonable to assume that Jesus was VERY physically fit and strong. Few men could have endured the physical beating that Jesus took on the path to the cross. In addition, He was a carpenter by trade which is a physically demanding job, especially so in those days. He spent much of His time walking, and also, science has shown, the things Jesus ate (i.e. fish, whole grain bread, vegetables) was a very healthy diet. We also know Jesus had a beard (Isa 50:6) as most Jewish men did at that time.
A prophesy of Jesus in (Isa 53:2) says, “for he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, And as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; And when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” In other words, Jesus didn’t have any great physical beauty and there was nothing about Him that stood out. He looked like a regular guy. This seems to be confirmed in (Mt 26:47-50)(Mk 18:43-46), because when Judas betrayed Jesus, he had to walk up to Him and kiss Him, to point out who He was to the mod that came to arrest Him. He didn’t appear to be someone who stood out and was easily recognizable. It is also interesting to look at something Paul said in (1 Cor 11:14), “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” Would Paul have said having long hair was a shame if Jesus had had long hair? However, if one believes the Shroud of Turin (Jesus’ burial cloth) is authentic (there is considerable controversy as to its authenticity) then the image on it clearly shows Jesus did have long hair.
I guess most of us have wondered at one time or another what Jesus looked like, but the best we can do is simply speculate. While it is fun to try and guess, we should always make sure our main focus is on living as He lived, obeying what He said, and becoming more and more like Jesus each and every day.