My thoughts are stimulated by this article.
How attractive would western-oriented Christians find Jesus to-day? For starters, he would not look like most of the pictures Christians have used to portray Jesus. He certainly did not have blonde hair and blue eyes – not even mid-brown hair.
The pictures we have to portray Jesus are not only false but probably idolatrous or bordering thereon.
One thing they do manage to do is contradict the most basic of Christian doctrines: the Incarnation. Christian belief centres on the belief that Jesus was an historical figure, both truly human and truly God. All Christian belief is centred on this belief and it is what we celebrate at this time of Christmas – God become human.
Jesus was not a fake human. His humanity was not pretence. Again, to believe that he was so holy that he couldn’t burp, fart, or open his bowels does disservice to the Christian faith, the Christian community in which lives have been given for this incarnational belief.
To imagine what Jesus – just another human being in appearance – looked like we conjure up a mental picture of what we know of people living at that time. He would not have been tall – people seldom were back then. He would have been swarthy in appearance. Perhaps ‘greasy’ even to Western European ideas. His hair would have been dark and – if he was in good health – glossy. His eyes would have been dark, probably darker than just plain ‘brown’. It is almost certain that he, as a conforming and religious Jew, would have worn forelocks. There is a strong likelihood that his beard was untrimmed.
In short, it is possible that, to modern Western eyes, Jesus was not physically attractive at all – and the very opposite of male beauty and acceptance in Western society.
And he didn’t speak Hebrew in daily life. He spoke Aramaic.
There are many Christian communities in the protestant tradition who are unfamiliar with the Creeds of the Church. To lose this connection is not only to lose touch with two millennia of Christian history, it is to lose connection with the basis of our faith, the centrality of our beliefs, and what we – the Body of Christ – hold in common wherever and whoever and whenever we are.
As an aide memoire to those who are not familiar with the Nicene Creed – said every Sunday in so many Christian communities – I publish it below. Next time, dear Reader, that you recite this Creed picture your historic Jesus based on the outline above and think of the Christians of Palestine – those small numbers who remain in the Holy Land – to-day.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.