The first time I read the Bible I was quite surprised. Why didn’t the authors describe what the characters looked like? I had a hard time imagining the plots because I didn’t know what those people were wearing or what color their hair was.
By that time, I was used to reading novels. I read a lot of them! And almost every novel contains a description of the characters in its first chapters. The author normally helps the reader visualizing the persons in the book.
While reading the gospel, it bothered me a lot. There I was, a new born Christian who was dedicated to reading the Bible and getting to know God. And then that! How was I supposed to imagine and really grasp what was happening?
Have you ever wondered why there are no descriptions on how a person looks in the Bible?
I wanted to know how Jesus looked, what he was wearing, how he was moving and whether he even wore shoes??
Looking back now, I laugh at my attitude. Today I understand that writing in the ancient world was completely different to our books today.
Furthermore, the authors of the Bible didn’t care so much about certain looks. Just very few passages describe the appearance of a person and only to make a point. This occurs, for example, in 1. Samuel 16,12:
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
This is a short description of Samuel’s first meeting with the future King David. Before that, God told Samuel that he shouldn’t look at appearances. David’s older brothers looked more like a king, than the youngest one did. The height of the body didn’t matter to God:
But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1. Samuel 16,7
The authors of the Bible haven’t forgotten to describe the looks and clothes of the characters. It just doesn’t matter!
The looks of a person or certain clothes aren’t in the foreground. No, God doesn’t choose people because of their outer appearances. He observes the heart of a person.
Additionally while reading the Gospels, it is obvious what counts; motives, deeds, words and behaviors. There’s the author’s focus. The reader should pay attention to these important things and not be distracted by superficial looks.
It also reveals to us a lot about who God is and how He sees us. He doesn’t care how we look and we shouldn’t pay too much attention to it either, because it’s just not that important. Appearances fade.
The actions and intentions of a person are what’s significant.