Here’s a fun conversation to have around Christmastime:
Do you think Jesus, when he was an adult, had all his teeth?
Okay, maybe it’s only a conversation for the right crowd. Some can’t imagine the idea that Jesus’ adult teeth weren’t perfect by 21st century American standards. When we cast actors in the role of Jesus, you better believe they’ll have no obvious dental issues.
The truth is, we don’t know what his teeth looked like. But we do know a few things:
1. Jesus was truly a man. God humbled himself and became one of us, to the point of putting on flesh and being born among animals. And since that flesh was very real, he was liable to sunburns and sprained ankles and tired feet and the flu. He had real scars, which he bore for us.
2. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him. There was nothing in his appearance that made him particularly desirable. (“But Brant, you can’t say that.” “But I totally can,” I reply, “because Isaiah 53:2 literally says ‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.’”)
3. Dental standards back then were radically different. Even today, when people don’t have access to fluoride, dental floss, toothpaste, or modern dentistry generally start losing teeth in their twenties.
Author and scholar David Capes wrote this:
So, did Jesus have all his teeth when he embarked on his public ministry? Probably not. We cannot say for sure. But even if he had, no one listening to Jesus teach would have thought it strange because most everyone they knew of that age had lost one or more teeth.
Sure, it’s hard for us to picture a Jesus who’s missing teeth, just like it’s hard to imagine him not being shorter than most of us. Yet, given the average height of his day, it would make sense that he was, say, 5’3” or 5’5”. That’s hard for us to process, too, thanks to paintings and statues and movies.
But that’s just it: This should all just re-startle us to the most profound truth, that God humbled himself to become a human. If we accept that, it should certainly be believable to think he would even look like a normal sort of man for his time and place.
Wait: He had dental issues? Exhaustion? Sickness? Pain? Scars? Bleeding and suffering?
God would do that for me…?
Oh yes, He would. And He did.
Morning Show Host, STAR 99.1
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Brant Hansen’s newest book, Life is Hard, God is Good, Let’s Dance: Experiencing Real Joy in a World Gone Mad releases January 16th and is now available for pre-order!