Scruffy-Faced One

I looked at the picture in the newspaper, a black and white picture
of what Jesus might have looked like,
a scruffy face,
a dark beard and mustache conforming to a normal jawline,
short, curly hair, uncombed, to match the beard,
with ears small and close to his head.

The head-on portrait makes it hard to describe his nose
but it seemed to be in proportion to his face,
neither stubby nor long,
the swarthy complexion what I would expect from anyone
from the mid-east.
The eyes, staring straight ahead, not quite focused,
the only feature that surprised me, brown-eyed all right
but no feeling there.

Other than his eyes, who cares what he looked like.
Surely, if there had been something unusual
about his appearance
some mention would have been made of it by the
story tellers but nothing was.
I am forced to conclude Jesus looked like most
every other Jewish male,
living in first century Galilee.

Normal height and weight, no limp, nothing
to distinguish him
except for what he taught and did,
a young rebel with a vision and a cause
and later a distinguished son of God.
what captures my mind still, though, is that Jesus
could both have been scruffy-faced and hallow,
something we don’t want to hear.

But what a treat to know that the popular depiction
of Jesus as white, blond and blue-eyed will not do,
not the last portrait we’ll see,
inner-sanctity, eventually, the winner every time.


Endnote: The scruffy face of Jesus I refer to was depicted by a British anatomical artist using forensic data from the skulls of first century Jewish men from around Galilee in northern Israel. The article appeared in the Skagit Valley Herald, December 19, 2015. There was no way, of course, the data could capture the eyes.

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