Jesus With a Man Bun

You’ve seen the style. Some of you love it. Some of you hate it. It’s the notorious man bun, donned by men in various cultures throughout time. But did you know Jesus had a man bun?

In Ireland he did. When missionaries — following in the footsteps of Saint Patrick — preached the Good News in Ireland, they would use images of Jesus with a man bun. The hairstyle were a symbol of royalty. If you had one you were privileged person. Until you weren’t. If a king didn’t live up to the expectations of the people, they might sacrifice him and get another king.

With Jesus, the story is powerfully flipped. The picture of the Celtic cross at the top of my post is from my trip to Ireland with Edengate Travel, a Belfast-based company that uses its profits for the spiritual flourishing of Ireland. This is the largest Celtic cross in Northern Ireland dating back to around AD 900. Our guide Samuel Chestnutt shared the redemptive story of Scripture with us from the symbols on the cross, with the front moving from Genesis to the gopsel, and the back surveying the promises of the New Testament.

If you were able to walk up close to the cross and examine the Christ image, you would see evidence of a man bun, both on the top of the head and one in the beard, illustrating that he was a man with royal status. But Jesus gave his life freely for his people. While we might entertain debates in our day about methodology in mission work, I think it is interesting how these ancient Christians used their artistic abilities to contextualize the Christian gospel in Ireland. And these stones still speak.