The real face of Christ?
As it does every decade or so, Hollywood has made another Jesus movie.
This one, called “Son of God,” was produced by the husband and wife team of Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, who produced a successful series called “The Bible,” which aired on The History Channel last year.
This is what so many of our churches have done. We’ve turned Jesus into the cool, hip, magazine-cover image that we have become so enamored of.
But Hollywood did not invent the glamorized Jesus. Renaissance painters did the same thing. Virtually all of them show Jesus with long hair. That, in spite of the fact that Paul said long hair is a disgrace to a man (1 Corinthians 11:14). That’s a pretty strong indication that first century men did not wear their hair down to their shoulders.
You may be surprised at what scholars think Jesus could have looked like, based on what is known about Palestinian men of that time. Richard Neave, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Manchester in England, drew a very different Jesus from that of Hollywood or the Renaissance masters. One with short brown hair, brown eyes, a beard and a flat nose.
The Bible gives few clues to what Jesus looked like. But Isaiah prophesied this about the Messiah: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract him to us, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2-3). To me, that means Jesus’ countenance is not what attracted people to him. It was his message. He gave hope and real leadership, which were sorely lacking at the time (Matthew 7:28-29).
If you want to see the real Jesus, read and study Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What he said and what he did are profound and life-changing, much more so than any blue-eyed surfer dude.
DOUG POLING is a retired correspondent for CBS News and a member of the Heritage Church of Christ in Franklin, Tenn.