Every December it seems, there is some kind of story that comes out about Jesus. In a story that has now gone viral, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archaeologists, have used “Forensic Anthropology” to show us exactly what Jesus looked like. To America’s shock he’s neither white nor black, he looks like, wait for it, someone born in Israel. While this has caused many people to strong reactions, “discoveries” like these cause true believers to chuckle in amusement.
With recent movies about Noah, Moses, the Bible series and so on, Hollywood is banking on the world’s fascination with depicting Biblical content on the screen. People everywhere seem to be dying to get their eyes on what Bible stories look like. And while I understand the desire to know exactly what Jesus looked like, and to be able to experience Old Testament times, I think that the Bible would not only say that it is not necessary, but it would go as far to say that we are better off for not seeing. Here are three quick reasons why we are better off without any likeness of heavenly things.
Jesus Blesses those who believe without seeing
Jesus in John 20:26-29 after appearing to Thomas says some amazing words,
26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said,“Peace be with you.” 27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Thomas had a problem, he didn’t believe Jesus could rise from the dead. He probably saw him dead, and was devesated by it. He had seen Jesus, walk on water, heal blind men, multiply fish, and even raise Lazarus from the dead, but the difference was that Jesus was alive for all of that. When Jesus died Thomas knew of only one person who could raise people from the dead, and it was Jesus himself. When Jesus appeared to him, he declares that those who believe without seeing are the ones who are even more blessed. Anyone who gives their life to Christ in this day and age, do so completely based on faith. Today, Jesus does not appear to anyone, anywhere. The Bible is clear that we are to wait for his return. In fact, if it weren’t for the two angels the day of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, the disciples would still be looking up into the sky. The message that day was clear, that the disciples were to work hard, and preach the Gospel relentlessly because Jesus could return at any moment. Each Lord’s supper we partake in is a reminder that Jesus isn’t there, that we will not eat with Him until the day he returns.
Faith comes from hearing Scripture
Paul in Romans 10:17 is very clear about the way that people obtain faith. He says,
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
It is critical that we understand the importance of this. No picture of Jesus, no archaeological discovery and ultimately no fine tuned apologetic can bring someone to faith. It must be scripture alone. That’s why Jesus tells the parable to the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). As the rich man is in Hell, he begs Abraham to send Lazarus to preach to his family so that no one would join him there. But Abraham said “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” Since Moses and the Prophets were dead already, Jesus must have been referring to the Bible. He says that you could perform the greatest miracle ever seen, and it wouldn’t matter, people must believe the Scripture, and unless they do, no miracle could persuade them.
Experience can never replace God’s word
Many people desperately want to feel something. They are searching for a feeling that will never come. To a certain degree we all enjoy having great experiences, but none could ever come close to what Peter, John and James experience on the mount of transfiguration. And yet, in 2 Peter 1:18-21,
18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attentionas to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Peter says, that the greatest experience of his life, pales in comparison to, what most of us carry around 20 versions of in our phones everywhere we go, God’s word.
Ultimately whether Jesus had long hair, short hair, was tall or really short, was muscular or very skinny, doesn’t matter. One day we will see Him face to face. We may not know what He looks like, but we are promised in this life to not only have His mind (1 Cor. 2:16) but also to be one with Him (1 Cor. 6:17), and know Him better than any person who walked with Him two thousand years ago. What matters most in this life is whether or not we have faith in who he said He was, and whether we have trusted in Him to save us from our sin. And how blessed we are for believing in the One whom we’ve not seen!