Question Box: Did Jesus have long hair?

Question or Topic Scripture
Did Jesus have long hair? I Corinthians 11:14

Jesus is often pictured with long hair. Why would they try to describe him in this way, when it does not seem to be consistent with such scriptures as I Corinthians 11:14 "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him"?

Answer


It would be difficult to attempt to justify this practice that is so prevalent among nominal Christians. Displaying pictures of Jesus is in itself a questionable act, without even considering the accuracy of their fanciful portrayals of him. Your question does provide us with an opportunity to discuss both the issue of hair length, as well as the practice of displaying these images.

As you have indicated, the reference in I Corinthians 11 plainly teaches that long hair is a shame for a man. At the same time, the chapter also points out that long hair is a glory to a woman. This significant difference in the length of hair was part of the Divine plan for maintaining a clear distinction between the sexes. Additional contrasts were designated for their clothing, and concerning their relative ranks. We are well aware that all of these scripturally defined contrasts have been blurred by the feminist movement for equality. The result of this trend has been our present "perilous times".

These days are such that they are compared with the days of Noah and Lot for their great wickedness. Modern man (and woman) seem to delight in the confusion of those issues that are clearly a provocation to the Almighty. When the servants of God consider the issue of hair length, it would be useful to keep in mind that maintaining a distinction between the sexes is perhaps the real concern.

In this age of "unisex", women and men are often so alike in appearance and dress, that any contrast is undiscernible. When sisters shorten their hair to be the same length as men, or when brothers grow their hair to the same length as a woman, they are accepting the philosophy of an age that is inconsistent with the teachings of scripture.

At the same time, we must keep in mind that it is a far more important matter for servants of God to concentrate on the inner man. Whatever our appearance may be, let us be sure that it is the product of a heart that is right, and a character that has been developed to manifest and glorify God.

The Nazarite Vow

Returning to our question relating to the length of Jesus' hair, we should look at a provision that was made under the law for the Nazarite to refrain from cutting his hair:

"All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow" (Numbers 6:5). To be consistent with the whole council of God, (including the verse in I Corinthians 11) we must conclude that the tokens related to the vow of the Nazarite were deliberately intended to place him into a position of shame in the eyes of men. He must be willing to ignore the loss of favor in the eyes of his peers in order to effectively dedicate himself unto the Lord.

Some of the artists who attempt to portray these images of Jesus may have concluded that Christ was fulfilling the type of the Nazarite during his ministry, and therefore it was reasonable that his hair would be long. We know however that "the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber" (Matthew 11:19). It is indicated that he took of the fruit of the vine on more than one occasion, including at the institution of the memorial service. It is for this reason that we can conclude that if his life was intended to be patterned after the Nazarite, it certainly was not to be manifested in the physical things such as long hair and abstinence from wine.

Physical Image?

The lack of any emphasis on the physical things is even more apparent when we consider how little is said relative to his appearance. We have no real evidence that would tell us anything about the way that he looked, other than the prophetic implication in the words: "he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).

We know that as a manifestation of the Father, it was important that there be no opportunity to make "any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" (Exodus 20:4). We know nothing of the physical image of God, other than that man was made in his image. Or, as James describes it: "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God" (James 3:9). If we have been given no indication of the physical image of God, it follows that there would be no record made concerning the physical image of his son.

Character

We are given an abundance of testimony concerning the characteristics of the Father. We are told, for example:

  1. Exodus 34:6-7
  2. ... The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
  3. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation

Jesus displayed the characteristics of the Father in fulfillment of his role as "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:23). Philip was told, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). Jesus was obviously referring to his actions and his words, and not to his looks.

We are instructed be his followers, and to develop similar characteristics so that we also may become suitable manifestations of the Father. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). We have accepted the call to be a "people for his name" (Acts 15:14). We are therefore obligate to put on godliness and to develop our character. We are not expected to run out and get a facial or to lose weight.

Images?

In conclusion, it seems very strange, when we look closely at what is taught in scripture, that anyone who was a true follower of Christ would want to remember him by looking at a fabricated visual image. Why also, if we have been told that "there is no beauty that we should desire" (Isaiah 53:2), would we be taken in by pictures that are fabricated to be pleasing in the eyes of men?

For the nominal Christians, (who are mistaken in their belief that God and Jesus are one), it is incredible that they could so easily ignore the clear commandment against making any image or likeness of God (Exodus 20:4) – a commandment which they would be obligated to keep, if they wanted to be consistent with their faith. It may be that even among true believers, there is a perceived need to find a physical way to remember him. We have been provided with the entire word of God, which is filled with prophetic word pictures of both his sufferings and the glory that will follow, as well as an abundance of testimony concerning his words and deeds. We have the opportunity to read about him daily to keep our minds centered on his life and sacrifice.

We have been asked to remember him each first day of the week by participating in a memorial service, until he comes. We have the sure words of prophesy to tell us of his return to this earth and the establishment of the Kingdom. We have the hope that we will soon share in that glory with him. With all of the opportunities that we have been given, there is no need for us to use a misleading picture as a crutch to our faith.

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