What does Jesus look like? (3-year-old theology)

Kids are amazing for questions! Of course, there is a resounding “why?” that pops up in every single conversation that we have about anything, but I’ve been struck by how many insightful questions my 3-year-old daughter has asked about God.

So I thought I’d go ahead and try to give an answer for some of these…

What does Jesus look like? (this was asked to me while we were praying just before bed)

Hmm, good question. So to buy myself some time I replied: “What do you think he looks like?”. She thought for a bit and answered, “He has blue eyes and a beard”. I understand her thoughts, because it’s one of those that instinctively we might answer with “Well, he has a beard, blue eyes, bleached blonde hair, a white robe with a blue sash…” just like all the pictures of Anglo Jesus we’ve seen in all the books or paintings.

Of course, we know he didn’t really look like that. He came to earth as a first-century Jew, working class and homeless, so unlikely to have feathered hair and an glowing aura around him while he walked with people.

But did she mean “What did he look like when he walked on earth with the disciples?”, or “What will he look like when Jesus returns in glory on the last day?”. Obviously my 3-year-old daughter did not know or make that distinction, and probably does not care to either. Maybe the description in Revelation might help?

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)

Perhaps that is a touch too intense/complicated to explain to her the first time around. I think what she was actually trying to get at was “What is Jesus like?”. So instead of taking her to Revelation 19 this time (I’m sure I will in future), I talked to her more about Jesus’s character:

“Well, I think you’re right, he might have had a beard, his eyes were probably brown though I think. But Jesus had very kind eyes, because he loves you. Jesus has big strong arms to hug you with, because he loves children, just like we read in the Bible the other day.(see Mark 10:13-16)”

Hopefully one day she’ll have a good view of the resurrected Jesus—mighty and powerful, wise and just, loving and wrathful. That’s a few conversations away I think. For now, I’ll just have to go with that.

Malcolm

Malcolm Purdey is a Christian, husband, father, student minister and science nerd. He completed a PhD in Chemistry and worked as a research scientist before making the jump into ministry in early 2017. He has been married for 5 years and has two daughters aged 3 and 1.

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