A common question that I continue to hear is, “Why do people portray Jesus as looking many different ways? I mean like a black Jesus, a white Jesus with brown hair, etc?”
Truth is, nobody knows what Jesus looked like (physically). But isn’t that interesting? Of all the artists in that time, all the statues of the great people, even some possible images of the Apostles, nobody bothered to paint, or even sculpt an image of Jesus as He looked in the flesh back then. All we have to go on was experience mentioned in the Bible, and Isaiah 53’s description that “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him.” (NLT) I say experiences in that when they arrested Jesus, Judas had to kiss Him on the cheek as a sign to the officials as to whom Jesus was. Though they’d heard and watched Jesus preach, for some reason, at the time of His arrest, they couldn’t tell which of the 12 men was Him…so He probably didn’t stand out much.
As for the different colored Jesus’, I can tell you for sure that Jesus was NOT European. He was not white, He did not have blue eyes, His hair wasn’t light brown and wavy, and he probably wasn’t even a scrawny little guy. I mean you have to figure, He was a carpenter by trade at first, and real wood is real heavy! So he had to be strong in order to lift everything. Also, the beatings He took before and at the cross…a guy the portrayed size probably would not be able to take all that was given to Him. Then to carry the cross-section up a hill (well, down a hill and partially up the hill. When he could no longer carry it, another fellow named Simon was forced to carry it).
If anything, Jews back then are thought to have looked closer to dark people from India today. Granted, many Jews were Helenized (forced to have inter-relations with Greeks, who were lighter in skin), but both Joseph and Mary were solid Israelite lineages of King David (mentioned in Matthew and Luke). In other words, there was no Greek tinting in their lineages. If there had, then Jesus could not be God’s anointed one of Israel.
But when you get right down to it, it is actually best that we do not know what Jesus looked like as a human. For, look at what people have already done with suggested pictures of Him, Mary, the Saints…they worship them. People actually bow down and pray to the pictures, they kiss the statues of Jesus…that’s an abomination of God, for it takes our focus away from the true Lord Jesus and puts it onto an icon, or idol. God talks all about His people doing stuff like that in the Old Testament.
As Christians, we believe that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God sends His Holy Spirit to live within us, and that through Him, we have that special relationship with Jesus. And because He reveals Himself to us, we don’t need to know what He looks like (physically). Personally though, I doubt any man-made images of Jesus could fully resemble His awesomeness!