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What Jesus Looks Like

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:2b).

As we get closer to Christmas, images and baby Jesus dolls will grace Sunday worship presentations, and nativity scenes respectively. But what did Jesus really look like? Was he white? Was he black? Was he somewhere in between? Did he have long hair, short hair, curly hair, straight hair? What he handsome? Does it matter?

Churches with a majority of black members, will likely have a nativity where its characters are depicted with black skin, just as predominately white churches will display nativities with white people. This is called contextualization and one Christian Chinese artist (He Qi) believes it does no harm, and can actually be helpful.

The apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 9, says that he has become all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some. Paul, however, was still human. Yet he says to the Jews he became like a Jew. To those not having the law he became like one not having the law in order to win them (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Imagine Jesus, who was fully God, becoming fully man. Talk about becoming like those he came to win! Jesus is the ultimate in contextualization! So what does it matter what he looked like. If you are white, to you Jesus is white. If you are black, Jesus is black. If you are a Messianic Jew, Jesus is certainly a Jew! There has been a lot of effort to describe Jesus as he may have actually looked during his time on earth. In reality the authentic Jesus is the one we hold in our hearts, regardless of his outward appearance. Remember he told his followers, that God (He) doesn’t look on the outward appearance but knows our heart. So don’t be afraid to contextualize Jesus. He already did long before we ever thought about it. So that by all means possible, he could win some. The important thing is not what did Jesus look like, but did he win your heart?

“Oh come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee!”


Father, thank you for keeping hidden from us, so many of the things that could be used to divide us. Help us this Christmas season to hold on tight to what is most important and to let go of the things that simply don’t matter. Help us, Father, to hold on to Jesus, not only as a baby, but as our coming King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.

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