What Color Is Your Jesus?

What Color Is Your Jesus? There is no unified agreement from scholars or otherwise on the race and appearance of Jesus. In fact, when it comes to ethnicity, the only fact generally agreed upon is that Jesus was Jewish. Many times, His race and appearance depends on the race and appearance of those seeking to depict Him in imagery. Generally speaking, if you go to a predominantly Caucasian church you’re likely to see images of a Caucasian-looking Jesus. If you go to the predominantly African-American church you’re more likely not to find imagery of Jesus, but in the African-American Christian home the odds are greater that you’ll find a darker-skinned Jesus than you will find in the predominantly Caucasian church. Why such a contrast in what Jesus looked like?

Generally, the impression of what Jesus looked like comes from the many depictions that we’ve seen passed down over time. Unfortunately, this often leads to many stereotypes, and at times a deep sense of division among races and ethnicities. Too many times these passed down depictions are not based on any solid historical research, and are based merely upon personal preference. Perhaps this preference is derived from a conscious or subconscious feeling or belief of superiority… or perhaps it is a want for the greatest man to ever walk the earth to look more like themselves. Maybe the image was created as the result of some sort of divine revelation from Jesus Himself. Who knows why we have so many varying depictions of Jesus?

What Does The Bible Say?

In the New Testament, before Jesus’ death, there is no mention of His racial background or physical appearance. The Synoptic Gospels (The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) speak of Jesus’ face shining like the sun (Matt. 17:2), when giving an account of the transfiguration of Jesus. The book of Revelations spoke of the appearance of the glorified Jesus (His heavenly appearance after death). Revelations 1:13-16 ESV tells us: “…13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.”

The Old Testament tell us in Isaiah 53:2 ESV that “…He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” This is the brunt of every thing we know biblically about Jesus’ physical appearance. The Bible does give us insight into the geographical region in which Jesus was born, and we can try to draw our conclusions from that information. But even that has been widely disputed among the races and ethnicities. Some say Caucasians were in the Middle East and thus Jesus is Caucasian. Others say people of the Middle Eastern region were of darker-skinned, much like the skin-tone of many present-day Middle Easterners. The speculation continues without end.

Conclusion: What Jesus REALLY looks like

Taking into account all the wide-ranging speculation and various other theories on the racial/ethnic identity of Jesus, and politely pushing them aside, I’d like to tell you how Jesus really looks. Jesus looks just like the diligent mother who refuses to stop praying until her wayward child return to the straight path…and like the obedient father who’s life exemplifies to his son everything a man of God should be. Jesus bears a striking resemblance to the humble servant-leader helping to lead people to salvation…and He looks a lot like the groups of Christ-followers out caring for the sick and feeding the hungry.

I say all that to say this: Perhaps there is an underlying reason why the Bible is so vague about Jesus’ racial and ethnic identity. Jesus’ was/is not defined by such narrow-minded identities. Rather, He is defined by His life works….His death…His resurrection…and ultimately His coming again. Therefore, let us toss aside all our wild and vain imaginations about irrelevant matters such as Jesus’ race and ethnicity, and focus on living Christ-like lives. Loving our neighbors, as well as our enemies…and being salt and light in the earth.

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