Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Do God and Jesus Look Like?

I have a picture of Jesus that hangs on my bedroom wall. My mom had a portrait like it that hung on her living room wall when I was a kid. I never really cared too much about Jesus back then. She gave me that portrait after I moved out and started on my own. By then I was a full blown atheist and the painting landed in the deep, dark, dank recesses of my garage. When I finally came to know Christ and dug it out, I found it had been destroyed by mold and mildew. However, shortly after I found an exact copy of it buried in a rack of paintings at a flea market. I snatched it up and hung it on my bedroom wall.

The painting means a lot to me, but I am not certain that when I meet Jesus he will look anything like that at all. It’s merely some artist's concept of him. Just like in my favorite movie about Jesus, “The Gospel of John.” Henry Ian Cusick plays Jesus in the film, and he does the finest job of any actor I have seen. However, I am not sure Jesus will be that fair skinned and speak with an English accent. So what does Jesus look like? In fact, what does God look like?

Speculation only leads to an inconclusive hypothesis. The best thing to do is search the Scriptures. However, even there one comes up short finding a true physical description of God or his Son. More than anything else, the Bible describes the attributes and work of God and Christ. Those are the most important things. However, inquiring minds want to know.

First let’s look at God. A couple of Scriptures offer some insight into his appearance:

Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:26-28 NIV)

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:14-16 NIV)

The most noteworthy thing about God is his majesty, his glory and his holiness. I don’t believe the human mind can actually wrap itself around his appearance. Notice how Ezekiel fell on his face in his presence. John “fell at his feet as though dead” in Revelation 1:17. I cannot describe exactly what God looks like, but the reaction to his appearance is obvious: it’s overwhelming.

Now, what about Jesus? Does he look anything like the cultured actor Cussick from “The Gospel of John”? Does he have feathered hair, neatly pressed robes and stylish sandals? The best description of him is found in the prophetic words of Isaiah:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2 NIV)

To put it simply Jesus looked like an average Joe in his human form. He was a blue collar class, hardworking carpenter, most likely with calloused hands and a face that did not stand out from the crowd. However, he had the commanding presence of the Almighty God inside of him.

How can we know what Jesus looks like? The one way is to surrender your life to him, to answer his call. Those that repent and believe the Gospel will one day stand in his glorious presence and see him as he truly is, as the Apostle John tells us:

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:12 NIV)


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