Given the Bible’s extraordinary descriptions of heaven, it’s no wonder that Christians think about it and look forward to it. They are curious about all they will see, what they will do, and who they will reunite with or meet for the first time. Christians also look forward with great anticipation to seeing Jesus Christ. Many also wonder what he will look like.
Jesus’ appearance in heaven will resemble his resurrected body on Earth. People saw Jesus, touched him, spoke to him, and even ate with him after he rose from the dead. Also, passages like the Transfiguration and John’s description of Jesus in Revelation may provide hints about what he will look like in heaven.
What does the transfiguration have to do with Jesus’ appearance in heaven? How did he look after his resurrection? Did Jesus have a halo? Will Jesus have scars in heaven? Will he have eyes of fire? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see What Will People Look Like In Heaven? to learn more.
Jesus in Heaven: A Glimpse at the Transfiguration
The Transfiguration of Christ, which is a well-known story in the Gospels, is when Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain to pray. During the time of prayer, Jesus’ appearance changed — he was transfigured — right before their eyes.
“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.” (Luke 9:28-29, ESV; also see Matt. 17:1-8 and Mark 9:2-8)
What does the transfiguration have to do with Jesus’ appearance in heaven? Many Bible scholars believe that how Jesus appeared at the transfiguration offers a glimpse of what he will look like in heaven. Jesus’ changed face and clothing may not be an exact reflection of his heavenly appearance, but his transfiguration did reveal his glory (Luke 9:32), which was normally hidden.
What this Jesus’ first transfiguration? Although Jesus’ appearance was changed in front of Peter, James, and John on the mountain, that wasn’t his first transfiguration. His first one occurred when he took on human flesh and eclipsed his true glory (cf. John 1:14). Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain was a brief moment when there was no eclipse and Peter, James, and John saw Jesus’ glory (Luke 9:32).
What is the significance of how Jesus’ looked at the transfiguration? First, Jesus’ face changed. Matthew says Jesus’ face shone like the sun (17:2). The text doesn’t imply that his physical features literally grew or shrunk in shape or size. Similarly, there is no indication that his eye color had changed. Rather, the Gospel writers record that something about his entire face changed.
Bible scholars believe that what happened to Jesus on the mountain, happened to a lesser degree to Moses centuries earlier.
“Then Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:29-30, ESV)
Did Jesus’ clothing change? Yes. Luke 9:29 reads, “And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white” (ESV). The color white in this context conveys holiness and righteousness. Later in the story, Luke refers to Jesus’ changed appearance as revealing “his glory” (Luke 9:32).
What was most important to the Gospel writers wasn’t the tone of Jesus’ skin, the color of his eyes, the length or texture of his hair, or his height. The emphasis is on his nature, which is holy and righteous, and his relationship to the Father: “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’” (Luke 9:7)
Does this mean that in heaven Jesus will be really bright? The physical description of Jesus at the transfiguration doesn’t necessarily mean that people will have to shield their eyes from him in heaven because his glory will be so piercingly bright. In part, Jesus’ radiance on the mountain was a contrast to the bleakness and gloom of a world that is infected with sin and wickedness.
How did Jesus look after his resurrection? When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and the other disciples after his crucifixion, John doesn’t mention any radiating brightness like at the transfiguration. This may indicate that while Jesus will be perfectly holy and righteous in heaven, his appearance won’t be specially illuminated forever.
Did Jesus have a halo? Halos are circles of light that appear around or hover over a person’s head, which are commonly found in art like frescos and paintings. The Bible doesn’t mention halos. In art, they pre-date Christianity and are found in several ancient cultures. Halos began to appear regularly in Christian art in the 4th century after Christ. There is no indication that Jesus will have a halo in heaven.
Also see Are Babies That Die On Earth Babies In Heaven? to learn more.
Jesus Physical Appearance: His Scars
The resurrected body of Jesus retained the physical marks of his crucifixion. According to a well-known interaction that Jesus had with Thomas — appropriately nicknamed “Doubting Thomas” — the skeptical disciple withheld belief until he had proof.
“So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But [Thomas] said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’” (John 21:25, ESV)
Jesus appeared to the disciples eight days after Thomas made his declaration. When Jesus appeared to him, he gave him an invitation.
“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!'” (John 21:27-28, ESV)
Will Jesus have nail scars on his body in heaven? Yes. All Christians will one day get to see and perhaps touch the scars that saved them from sin. Many Bible scholars suggest that Jesus will bear the marks of his crucifixion for all eternity as a reminder of how sinful people were and how much God loved them anyway (cf. Rom 5:8).
Also see Who Will Not Go To Heaven? to learn more.
Jesus’ Appearance in Revelation
Does John’s description of Jesus in Revelation provide any indication of what he will look like in heaven? The incredible description of Jesus in Revelation 1 is unique to the last book of the Bible. John writes that Jesus was
“…clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (Revelation 1:12-16, ESV)
John’s description of Jesus in this passage is purposefully reminiscent of Daniel’s description of God (Dan. 7:13-14). It probably isn’t a description of Jesus’ eternal appearance, especially given the symbolism of details such as a sword exiting his mouth. Instead, that particular image likely conveys the power of Jesus’ commands, decrees, and judgments.
Jesus’ appearance in Revelation 1:12-16, building on the book of Daniel, is likely an allusion to Jesus as a Divine Judge in Revelation as well as in human history.
Also see Will There Be Marriage In Heaven? to learn more.
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