When I was in graduate school in the late 90’s, I took a course in Old English Literature. Old English was spoken in what would become England and parts of Scotland by the Anglo-Saxons who settled the area from the 5th through the 12th centuries. In original texts, the language would hardly be recognized by modern English speakers since, in this early form, it was more akin to other Germanic languages. During my studies in this course, I learned about the macho warrior-centered culture of these early Anglo-Saxons, where heroism, courage, and strength were held in high regard. This is the main reason why, when Christianity was introduced to the Anglo-Saxons, that Jesus was portrayed in some of their literature more like a warrior hero going to the cross in the manner that an Anglo-Saxon warrior might go to battle boldly with courage and vigor, not fearing the possible death that might await him.
It may seem somewhat strange in our culture to think of Jesus in this way, a bold, manly warrior striding confidently to the cross. This is the same way we would view our various movie superheroes or even our various human heroes from action or western movies. But this is the inevitable influence of culture upon its people in interpreting all things, including who Jesus is. This is something that probably all of us do in some way, imagining Jesus in terms that we are familiar with or that appeal to us. It is certainly something that many have done in art, literature, and the movies, with so many varied portrayals of His appearance. But as to Jesus’ real appearance, the Bible is fairly silent about the subject. I believe the only reference to His appearance is in Isaiah 53:2: “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” In this sole reference to His appearance, the Scripture seems to suggest that He was not what we would call a handsome man, with no great beauty to His appearance that would attract people to Him for what they saw on the surface.
I would imagine that this appearance was deliberate that God formed Him this way while He walked the earth so that people would not flock to Him for reasons that typically make people popular, i.e. good looks, an engaging personality, etc. Instead, He was a plain looking man, perhaps so that people would focus on what He was saying and doing and would therefore seek Him out for deeper, more personal reasons of the heart. For modern readers who have never seen Him, perhaps the Bible does not make much mention of His appearance so that we might avoid worshipping His image rather than knowing Him personally and seeking a relationship with Him. Or perhaps it is deliberately silent so that we can all approach Him in our individual ways. In any case, the important thing is not how we view Him, but rather who we say He is. This critical question is the same one that Jesus asked of Peter in Matthew 16, and it is the same question we all must answer: “Who do you say that I am?”
The answer to this question determines whether we see Jesus simply as a good man, a great teacher, a prophet, or the Son of God that He said He was, capable of saving us from sin and capable of being our everyday savior in all problems big and small.
I pray that you would come to know Him as Savior and Lord, and if you are already walking in fellowship with Him that your walk with Him would be sweeter by the day.