"John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." (Revelation 1:9-18)
Isn't it striking that of the many portraits of Jesus which have been created through the centuries … that Jesus is almost always portrayed as a man with long flowing hair, which is precisely the hairstyle of the figure who is imaged on the Shroud of Turin?
But then there is the figure described by John in the first chapter of Revelation, which can only be Jesus, because the figure identifies himself as "the First and the Last," going on to say, "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen."
Take special note of the description of the One by John, which includes the words: "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow." That description given to us by John doesn't say a thing about long flowing hair; on the contrary, the description of the One's hair is comparable to that which we would expect to find atop the head of an African man.
But was Jesus an African, did he have African features? We can't know with absolute certainty — but we can know this: John Mark, an African, of Cyrene (Libya), is the only man named John (referred to as "Mark" in 2 Timothy 4:11) who can be placed in or near Ephesus, Turkey, which is on the coast facing what is believed to be the island of Patmos. Only an African man named Mark, also called John Mark, is identified in or near the place where the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ was written.
If an African wrote the book of Revelation, and if he was the same man named John who wrote the Gospel of John, which makes him "the disciple whom Jesus loved" … then the odds are good that there was a special reason for which Jesus befriended John, and if this man John is John Mark, then the reason for which Jesus made John Mark a friend was because Jesus had a special empathy for the African scholar, a learned man with African features. Why else would Jesus have befriended John, why else would Jesus have specially loved the man John, who writes these words in Revelation, if it was not because Jesus knew what it felt like to be the object of racial prejudice? Why else would John Mark of north Africa have been obscured, if it was not because he might one day identify the appearance of Jesus, and, Jesus' similarities to an Ethiopian Adam? The reasons why John Mark has been vaguely referred to can be argued, but who can say that John Mark is at least as well known as John, the apostle, the son of Zebedee, whom most scholars reject as the writer of the Gospel of John. John Mark was a scholar … Zebedee's John was the overbearing son of a rich fisherman.
Indeed, by making the assumption that Jesus was a man with African features the hatred and the bias toward him begins to make much more sense. Why would Jesus have been crucified in the place of Barabbas, a common criminal and very likely a murderer, if Pontius Pilot knew that Jesus was innocent? If Jesus was a man with African features in a place like Jerusalem, where most of the people were white, it would make sense, especially if Pilate was a racist, too; it would make sense that Pilate should have wanted to put the decision up for public debate. In this way, Pilate may have forced the crowd to reveal their racist views, thereby exonerating himself, or trying to. Just a thought.
Jesus was referred to as a demon, as one who healed by the power of the devil. Jesus was also referred to as "son of David," one like Solomon, who happened to have had an Ethiopian mother. Was it racism directed against Jesus which made him the unpopular figure that he was … though he did such great works of healing and compassion?
There are more reasons to believe that Jesus had the hair of an African than that of a Caucasian with long flowing hair … but this is how Jesus is often portrayed. Has there been behind this depiction of Jesus a special campaign to portray Jesus as white, or has a world dominated by whites just naturally assumed that Jesus must be white? A little bit of both, or a lot of both, we could say. Or, we can say, it is preposterous to suggest that there has been a campaign, one of deception, to depict Jesus as white … until we turn to the Shroud of Turin and the look at the face and the hair and remind ourselves that this image, the creation of which still has scientists stumped, is a forgery.