The apocryphal gospel Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem “On the Life and the Passion of Christ” says that Judas identified Jesus with a kiss (as related in three canonical gospels, Matthew 26:48; Mark 14:44; Luke 22:47) because that was the only way the soldiers could be sure they had Jesus himself, the reason being that Jesus could change his features or shape.

Is there any ground for this belief: that Jesus could change his features or shape?

  • Hi, thanks for visiting us. Unfortunately we can only answer questions asking about the Bible and existing theologies based on the Bible.
    – Mawia
    Mar 4, 2015 at 11:05
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about a speculation with no basis in Christian belief or scripture.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 4, 2015 at 15:37
  • To make this on-topic, I think you'll need to show that there are some Christians who believe that Jesus could change his features or shape. Otherwise, we're opening ourselves up to every wild speculation a person can imagine.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 4, 2015 at 15:38
  • Alternately, you could simply ask "Why did Judas identify Jesus with a kiss?" -- There may not be a solid answer, but there's bound to be a more solid answer than to a wild speculation.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 4, 2015 at 15:38
  • @Flimzy That depends on what you think is scripture. It is primarily opinion based though.
    – user3961
    Mar 4, 2015 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


The best answer comes Scripturally. Today, the painters of the Middle Ages have given us a picture of Jesus as a grand, handsome man. In fact, the Bible tells us the opposite - Jesus was very plain and normal looking. Let's look at some verses to support this. Emphasis added.

Isaiah 53:2 (ESV) tells us the Messiah wouldn't be "beautiful" on the outside:

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

John 5:13 (ESV) tells us how easily Jesus slipped out of a crowd:

Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.

Now, taking these two verses in particular in to account - Jesus was a plain looking Jewish man (or perhaps, ugly, to the Jews of the time). That said, the Jews of the time were expecting a king who would conquer their adversaries (this is simply what I've heard, I do not know the Biblical basis for their unbelief except that He "didn't fulfill prophecy" and that He just "made them mad"), hardly the appearance one would expect for the Messiah. A plain man?

That said, it's not hard to believe Jesus looked in a way that would not easily distinguish Him from those who followed Him. We also know through Scripture they came for him at nighttime (John 13:27-30). The use of torches was commonplace at this time - hardly enough adequate light to see what you're looking for. Simply put, Judas identified Jesus with a kiss as it would be easier to identify Him.

Even then, Jesus had to identify Himself to the soldiers who came for Him.

John 18:4-5:

Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.

  • I like the idea that Jesus was ugly/plain. It is easier for me to relate to him...
    – Grasper
    Mar 4, 2015 at 14:31
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    Jesus was not ugly.And downvoting questions will not make them go away! The guy who edited the question has omitted a very important information about the author and changed the question title as well.Those who come across as dogmatic and mean only hurt their own faith and show a failure of following Jesus " the beautiful" The messiah truly.
    – nasraya
    Mar 4, 2015 at 16:15
  • I don't know why you commented on this answer in particular as I didn't downvote the question. Scripturally, as showned above, Jesus would have been plain and/or ugly. Scripture clearly states He had "no majesty that we should look at him" or "beauty that we should desire him". In fact, historians speculate the modern day depiction of Jesus was commissioned (and based) off Cesare Borgia.
    – Jesse
    Mar 4, 2015 at 16:48
  • @nasraya The differences between the two versions of this question are minimal. See for yourself.
    – user3961
    Mar 4, 2015 at 17:32
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    @Jesse This comment was not directed at you at all nor to Grasper but at those who come across as dogmatic turning a Christian site into a rep points war! Your answer is sincere--- though I must say I do not agree with using the word ugly with regard to Jesus.Jesus being ugly would have the same result as "he had form or majesty that we should look at him, and beauty that we should desire him." I mean both would have the same effect in attracting attention to him.Thank you sir.
    – nasraya
    Mar 4, 2015 at 21:53

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