Lent always brings a spate of passion plays. Have you seen one? They can be both enjoyable and inspiring.
But I feel for the folks who portray Jesus. No matter how able they are, few in the audience are satisfied with their interpretations of Jesus. He’s always too wimpy, too spacey, too stiff, or too something. It’s odd that we’d be so picky, since we have no description whatsoever of Jesus’ appearance. In the early centuries of the church, artists depicted Jesus every which way. It was several centuries into the church’s life before the standard artist’s conception that you’re thinking about emerged.
Why do the gospels not tell how Jesus looked? Maybe for the same reason they don’t tell us what happened with him between the ages of twelve and thirty. Nor do they give us much detail about his suffering on the cross. (Can you imagine how cable news would have covered the crucifixion?!) Nor do the gospels describe exactly what sort of body Jesus had after his resurrection, a body which could be touched, but which could appear and disappear. What a long list of questions we could make about Jesus!
The story is told of John Calvin that he was once asked what God was doing before he made the earth. Calvin’s reply was, “Making hell for people who ask questions like that!” That was Calvin’s not so subtle way of saying that God tells us as much as we need to know to follow him, but not all we would like to know. The serpent’s temptation to Eve and Adam was to seek to know all they would like to know (Gen 2:17, 3:4-5).
We’ll have to trust the portrayal of Jesus to the artists’ conception. Let’s go with what we’ve got in the gospels: a risen Savior and the faith he gives us. That’s more than enough!