The surprising face of Jesus

Last year a research team of forensic anthropologists released an image of what they say is "the most accurate image" of the face of Jesus of Nazareth. Of course, there is no physical evidence or written description of Jesus' appearance, so it would be a stretch to say these scientists discovered what Jesus actually looked like. It seems that their true achievement was to produce the most accurate image of what an average man of Jesus' day and region may have looked like. And that's where this gets interesting.

On the one hand, Christians confess that Jesus was really a normal guy. He looked like an average man of his time. There was nothing about him that would draw people's attention to his appearance. But beneath the surface of his physical looks lay an important truth.

Christians believe and confess that in Jesus Christ God himself became fully human. Jesus himself claimed to be God and walked this earth in true human nature. He had an appearance and demeanor that matched his human nature. He got hungry. He slept every night. He needed a haircut regularly. He had a blood type. But, remarkably, he was at the same time also true God come into the world to be mankind's Savior. 

This time of year our Sunday worship at St. Stephen Lutheran Church focuses on that important fact: God has opened himself up to us in Jesus Christ—not so that we might become too fascinated with how he looked, but that we might believe in his words and works for eternal life. We call that time of year "epiphany," and this year we're considering how what we know about God is more than a feeling, it is a conviction about the historical Jesus, his words, his works, and what they mean for you and me.

"What did Jesus look like?" That's an interesting question. But the most important question is, "Is Jesus who he said he was?" We believe he was telling the truth: He is the Son of God and our Savior.