Q: Do we know what Jesus actually looked like? I’ve seen a lot of paintings that are supposed to be of Jesus (especially pictures of him on the cross), but I wonder how accurate they really are. — G.H.
A: No, the Bible doesn’t tell us what Jesus looked like, nor did anyone paint His portrait or sculpture a bust of him during his lifetime.
We shouldn’t be surprised at this; in the ancient world only very wealthy or powerful people were able to have this done. It also wasn’t customary among the Jewish people. Any paintings or images you see of Jesus today are only the product of an artist’s imagination (although some express his suffering or character in moving ways). He apparently was little different in appearance from most men of his day; the Bible says, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him” (Isaiah 53:2).
Why doesn’t the Bible tell us what Jesus looked like? One reason may be because God knew we’d try to make idols or images of Jesus — and that would be wrong. One of the Ten Commandments states, “You shall not make for yourself an image. … You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:4-5). Never forget: Jesus is far greater than any image, for he is the son of God who came to save us from our sins.
The Bible does, however, tell us that someday we will see Jesus in all his glory and majesty! Do you have that hope in your heart? You can, by turning to Christ and by faith committing your life to him. The Bible’s promise is for you: “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Write “My Answer,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; or visit www.billygraham.org.