Did Jesus Have Chiseled Abs?

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Well, I think that sounds like a pretty silly question, don’t you? After all, what 32 year-old Jewish man doesn’t have chiseled abs? [Tell me I’m not alone in thinking that.]

Some have posited that Jesus couldn’t have had those defined stomach muscles that so many intend to plan to intend to aspire to…someday…because, you know, “the prophet Isaiah said so.” They quote Isaiah 53:2:

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.

That’s good and all, but I’m not sure that the context supports the argument. Isaiah 53 is the “Suffering Servant” passage, and the very next verse says,

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

That’s all true in the end, but it’s not such an accurate description of the Jesus who had massive crowds hanging on his every word. Thus, we probably shouldn’t assume that it is descriptive of Jesus at all times. Nonetheless, the Gospels attest to Jesus blending into crowds easily (Luke 4:30; John 7:11), so it isn’t likely that he had clothes or a face that were strikingly different from his fellow Israelites.  [I don’t imagine that Jesus publicly bared his stomach too often either.]

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Theologically, how should we approach this? A silly question, perhaps, but there is some rich theology to draw from.

The virtually inexhaustible St. Thomas Aquinas, for his part, asserts that Jesus took on the human defects that are punishment for man’s sins (ST III, q.14). However, the “defects” that Christ chose to take upon himself, such as thirst, pain, and death, were only those common to all mankind. In other words, those defects which are common to mankind and imply no defect of knowledge or grace were assumed by the Son of God, and those only. Hence, Christ must have been fit as a fiddle, healthy as a horse, and in no way suffering from a rebellious torso.

Along those same lines, the Christian faith holds that Christ had two hypostatically united natures, one Divine and one human.  Christ’s human nature was perfect, and a perfect human nature necessarily implies a perfect body.  It might be hard to say positively what that looks like, but it was definitely a body with a healthy metabolism and efficient biological processes.  It was a body without impediment, having maximum human potential.  That might not necessitate a chiseled stomach per se, but it certainly rules out excessive cushion around said stomach.

So, here are a few practical reasons to believe that Jesus did, in fact, have a washboard for a stomach.

He is God of the Universe!

Check And Mate! In what reality would the Creator of all give himself flab and extra belly fat? No, of course I’m not saying that God is vain. Still, if his only physical defects were those that are common to all mankind, he must have been the very paragon of health, and a beer gut doesn’t exactly scream “vitality.” Besides that, I’m certainly not gonna be the guy who belittles the appearance of the Incarnate God.

He walked everywhere

…except for the occasion when he entered Jerusalem for the last time. He could have made them do it, but the disciples didn’t carry Jesus around on a throne. Take a look at a map of the places Jesus went during His years of ministry. Christ must have walked thousands of miles every year. Nobody walks, literally, everywhere he goes and fails to have a flat stomach.  Don’t even get me started on the core strength necessary for walking on water!

He was a carpenter’s son, and carpentry is hard work.

Jump back 2000 years, and carpentry was even harder labor. [If Nick Offerman practiced his craft that long ago, he’d have the physique of Ryan Gosling.] Wielding nothing but heavy lumber, heavy stones, and hand tools fashioned of heavy metal must’ve made young Jesus as ripped as anyone. (Side note: Jesus had incredible spiritual power that he controlled in meekness. It seems probable that the same might be true of his physical power.)

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Jesus was no glutton

A man who eats fresh seafood, low-carb bread, and had the discipline to fast regularly must have had a tight physique. Also, nobody can doubt that Jesus enjoyed the fruit of the vine. – He wasn’t accused of being a drunkard because he was a prodigious consumer of grape juice. And you don’t really think that the best wine served at Cana was called “best” because it was low proof, do you? – But Jesus, being a man of little means and great temperance, didn’t binge on beer or brownies. He could feast at appropriate occasions, I have no doubt, but he was also without fault.

Genetics!

Some people can’t do a whole lot about the hand they’ve been dealt. DNA is awfully crafty! But the Messiah couldn’t have had that problem. We have it on the authority of many witnesses – think Fatima – that Mary is relatively slim, even if it is her glorified form. But more than that, half of Jesus’ DNA came by way of the Holy Spirit. – Scripture attests that the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb happened by the Holy Spirit, and we know that a woman’s egg alone does not contain the necessary genetic material to result in a human. – So you know genetics were very much working in Jesus’ favor.

Finally, probability being what it is, Jesus was likely sporting normal abs for someone of his age and profession in first century Judea. That is to say, he was chiseled. Now, if only he had been buried with hands at his sides, I would’ve had my proof.

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