The Many Faces of Jesus

CC BY-NC-ND, glonann, Flickr
CC BY-NC-ND, glonann, Flickr

Jesus…all of our favorite person in the Bible—don’t you love him? But what was he like? Only a relative few ever met him. If you’re like me, reading the Gospels is exciting because he’s a pretty charismatic guy. But it’s also an imaginative experience because you wonder about his personality.

Side note: for most of us, within 50 years we all will have met him!

Thus, we’re left relying on the biographies, the Gospels. They help us piece together things about his character and piety, but that’s about all, although “all” is the basis of everything we believe, pretty amazing. To have influenced 12 men to shake the world for God, Jesus must have possessed incredible personality apart from his divine gifts.

So on a lighter note today, I’ve put together nine standout qualities that I notice about Jesus; and, at the risk of appearing sacrilegious, I’m going to reinvent him in the character traits of those we see almost daily. This is my take on Jesus.

#1 – Jesus was Unassuming, like Brad Pitt

CC BY-SA, Blake Nelson Boyd, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, Blake Nelson Boyd, Wikimedia Commons

Many refer to this quality as meekness. I sense that Jesus was not just a gentle and kind person, but that he didn’t seek to draw attention to himself. So, you ask, why in the world Brad Pitt? Well although the ladies and media make a big deal over him, I’ve never seen Pitt feed his ego the way we ogle him. Instead, he keeps out of our attention and has a reputable humanitarian record. I think Jesus was like this. It was never about him but his Father and the kingdom until it was imperative that the people knew who he was.

#2 – Jesus was Down-to-Earth, like Hugh Jackman 

CC BY-SA, Grant Brummett, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, Grant Brummett, Wikimedia Commons

I think Jesus was very approachable. I don’t think he took himself too seriously either. I like to think that he and the disciples cracked up sometimes and had fun together. Hugh Jackman…well this is his reputation: a good guy and a good sport. As I often say, we need to rephrase the question and ask why sinners wanted to be around Jesus. Yes, he went to them but they loved him back.

#3 – Jesus was Eccentric, like Johnny Depp

CC BY-SA, Caroline Bonarde Ucci, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, Caroline Bonarde Ucci, Wikimedia Commons

C’mon, or am I the only one who’s noticed this? In the Gospels Jesus is “THE MAN with the plan,” but he’s just a little…different sometimes, especially with the disciples. You can sense it in their confused inquiries. When Jesus predicted his death and spoke prophetically of his great return, it wasn’t the easiest thing for them to digest. It didn’t make sense: How could someone who used the power of God at will end so horribly? His otherworldliness must have seemed a little odd. And speaking of odd, just think of Johnny Depp; and if that doesn’t do it, remember him in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”!

#4 – Jesus was Brooding, like Jim Caviezel

CC BY-SA, Ewen Roberts, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, Ewen Roberts, Wikimedia Commons

Intense. Serious. Observant. Pensive. In his head. Introverted. It seems Jesus retreated to privacy not just to pray, but also to recharge. I understand this because I’m this way. People often misunderstand this type whom they deem anti-social and quiet, which is not accurate. We love spending time with others, but alone time is essential to that experience. If you know Jim Caviezel—who portrayed Christ in The Passion (top), himself a devout Christian—you know that he’s the epitome of this quality.

#5 – Jesus Loved People, like Cory Booker

CC BY-SA, David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons

If you are familiar with Cory Booker’s political career, then you know that people are his No. 1 priority. His leadership and commitment as mayor to the betterment of Newark was transformational and impressive, to say the least. Jesus loved people. He not only cared about their souls; he was concerned about their total well-being, which is implied in the biblical concept of salvation. Remember his concern for the people, their hunger and fatigue, after they had followed to hear him preach? He demonstrates to us how to cherish one another and models a proper humanity.

#6 – Jesus was Smart, like Denzel Washington

CC BY-SA, Faulkenauge, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, Faulkenauge, Wikimedia Commons

Not necessarily intellectual and genius, but savvy and street smart. The Pharisees and members of the Council would do everything to trip up Jesus, but he was never outwitted. Yes, some of it was the Spirit of God in him, but I also think he was adroit and possessed a keen mind. Some of his rejoinders are astonishing. No wonder he had to dash away from the temple officials! Denzel…cool, calm, and collected God-fearing man—but perceptive.

#7 – Jesus was Articulate, like Bono

CC BY-SA, David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons

When I say articulate, I don’t just mean well-spoken; I mean abreast of the issues, contributing to the important matters of his time, and in that way influential. I like that Jesus resisted the status quo, that he made the real issue a point of contention when others simply refused to rock the boat. Bono has probably gained more fame today as an activist and philanthropist than as the frontman for U2. He forces us to see what is important and needs attention.

#8 – Jesus was Fit, like Carter Oosterhouse

CC BY-SA, Rorincent, Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA, Rorincent, Wikimedia Commons

Skillfully so. He assumed his trade as a craftsman-mason, or carpenter, from his father Joseph and that probably kept him lean and agile. Certainly he required some measure of fitness to travel and preach like he did. Now, you didn’t think I meant fit as in sexy, vain, muscles-for-no-reason “fit”, did you? Then you understand why Carter Oosterhouse is a good choice.

#9 – And my Jesus looks sorta like this Israeli guy, but not all “modely”

Nir LaviSee him in his tunic, cloak, and headdress; his belt and sandals. See him through the eyes of the widow at Nain coming to show you compassion. Picture him standing before an impressive crowd teaching, Mary off to his side remembering back 30 years when Gabriel startled her with the news. How do you see Jesus?

15 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Jesus

  1. I love it. Especially the Johnny Depp comparison. It made me think of the scripture where the disciples asked him, “Why do you always speak in parables.” Great, now I’m going to picture Jesus answering like Jack Sparrow. Ha!

        • OMG, Mark! I’m not sure what you think of Jesus in the “The Bible”, but he was the low point of it all to me. I refused to see “Son of God” for that reason alone. Just why? Jesus was no beefcake but surely not a pansy. I started to include this quality in the post; maybe I should.

        • I can’t speak on those two. All I know is a carpenter in Jesus’ day had to go from tree to finished product. There were no lumber stores. Raised that way, he would be muscular from the beginning.
          Also, a lot of the movies look like they cast from a church choir performance. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want a real perspective – I’m pretty sure Mary wasn’t blond, her teeth weren’t perfect, and we know she wasn’t European. Just sayin’

          You mentioned Jim Caveziel and I bought he was great in The Passion.

        • Spot-on. I think this is what’s so stimulating about reading the Bible and any historical text: they require some imagination, even if custom is expressed. There’s no way a person from that time could understand life today, although they may have imagined automatic vehicles and flying through the air.

          Imagination fills in the details of scripture. I like to feel what was occurring: Jesus running away from the temple priests; the astonishment of the disciples at a miracle. The same applies to trying to image Jesus himself.

          Yes, Caviezel was a “good Jesus.”

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