Excerpted from “God’s Last Word To Man” – G. Campbell Morgan (1936)
The Eternal had in Jesus temporal manifestation. The Infinite logos came to the level where it was possible for finite eyes to behold, and by such beholding to be introduced to the infinite things themselves.
We will look at Him then in the midst of that period of manifestation, the days of His flesh. This necessarily means we must consult the records. Going back, then, to the Gospel narratives we inquire, How do we see Him? This is an easy question to ask, but an impossible one to answer with adequacy. Nevertheless there are certain outstanding facts which are full of value.
As we behold Him there, we see One Whose appeal was ever made to essential humanity, quite apart from any racial position, or privilege, or limitation. or disadvantage. An illustration of what I mean is an old and familiar one, but nevertheless pertinent. Many years ago there was an exhibition in London of Tissot’s pictures, about 270 of them, illustrative of the earthly life of Jesus. There is much in them that does not appeal, but there is one outstanding fact, and it is that, while the artist depicts with accuracy the setting of the story, and the customs of the time, so that we can racially place the Roman patrician or plebeian, the cultured Greek, the barbarian, and the Jew, he never painted the face of Jesus so that it could be thus placed. Now literally he may have been wrong. It is possible that our Lord had the distinct face of the Jew, though we have no means of proving it. But it is certainly spiritually correct. Paul understood the great truth when he wrote:
“There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male or female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
All the things by which we place individuals so as to mark their separation from others, are absent. It was in this way He made His constant appeal to men, and attracted them to Him. It was not the teaching of Jesus that appealed to men. They refused it. They knew it was true, and that was why they objected to it, because the truth condemned them. As long as Savonarola said to Florence, “Be free,” they applauded him; but when he said, “Be pure,” they refused him. Jesus said, Be pure from first to last. Therefore His teaching did not appeal. But His humanity did. He was irresistible.
Words of Grace for Strength
Nowhere in the bible does one see a description of the face of our Lord. Tissot was right in not painting Christ’s face if he wanted to be biblically accurate. Morgan may well be right in saying that Jesus may well have had the distinctive look of a middle eastern Jew, but he is also correct in stating we can offer no biblical proof to that assumption, no matter how reasonable and logical it sounds. The fact of the matter is that westernized artist conceptions of the face of Jesus are certainly not middle eastern in visage, and are most likely, highly inaccurate.
Which leads to one probable (and probably glaring) conclusion. What Christ looked like is not important for us to know, or God would have seen to it that a detailed description was recorded in His Word given to men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God in His wisdom kept that fact from us:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
We need to look with our hearts at the heart of Jesus, outward appearance means nothing in His plan of salvation; neither how we look or what we say. It is what we mean that counts, a sincere confession of our faith and trust in Christ alone. Imagine what would go on, even within the Church, if we were to focus on how much we resemble Christ physically or facially instead of how much we need to resemble Him spiritually or faithfully, how much we need to model our obedience to the Lord based upon His obedience to the will of the Father.
The things we need to know the Bible makes plain if we would just read it after praying to God for wisdom and discernment, that He open our eyes to the Truth. We can learn the things we need to know, not necessarily the things we want to know. We are old enough to know (even if we are not wise enough) that needing and wanting are two totally different concepts. Jesus will manifest Himself for us through the Word of God in our faith walk as we need to know Him as we seek to go about our Father’s business. If we cannot figure it out from the Word, we are probably looking for answers to the wrong questions. Answers to questions like what did Jesus look like.
We will one day gaze upon the face of Jesus and will be able to do so forever. But only as He determines we are ready for it.