I was struck by the simple description of Jesus by the prophet Isaiah. “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). The CEV describes Jesus as “nothing about the way he looked made him attractive to us.” Contrary to popular opinion Jesus did not walk around with a glowing face or a halo. He did not stand out in a crowd by any measure. If you look through the multitudes He would not have been picked out. Jesus was as common as his brothers in the flesh or the fellow next door.
We know little of his early life before beginning His ministry at 30. Clearly He embodied the average Jewish male in Nazareth. When He finished working with Joseph in some carpentry work He was drenched with sweat and dirty. As He sat in the synagogue and listened to the teachers proclaim the word of the Lord He did not strike others with His appearance. The Lord walked with the caravans of pilgrims who made the journey to Jerusalem and He was unnoticed. Walking in the Temple no one took a second glance. At the age of 29 He was just another man caring for His family and engaging with his brothers and sisters. This would change within a year.
Was Jesus tall and did he have rugged features? What was the manner of His voice? How did He carry himself? We know He sang (Matthew 26:30). Did He have a low singing voice or a high one? What did His laughter sound like? Could He whistle? What was it like when He cried? There are a million questions left unanswered but one – He was just like me. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same” (Hebrews 2:14).
While His conception was through the power of God His birth was as natural as it could be. He was born after nine months it would seem and as a child made His first cooing sounds and smiles. He would roll over the first time, take His first steps and said “Abba” the first time. Mary’s heart would burst with love as He nestled close to her at night. Joseph would pick up the little toddler Jesus and hold Him tight. James would be born as well as Joses, Judas and Simon and Jesus would have siblings to play games with. His sisters would also make a family full as He watched them grow to young ladies. What a family feast when they all gathered for Passover in their home and remembered the story of the Exodus.
Jesus learned how to ride a donkey. He may have gone to the Sea of Galilee and watched the fisherman leave out for expected bounties. Did He ever visit the snowcapped Mount Hermon or stand on Mount Carmel where the prophet Elijah defeated the minions of Ahab and Jezebel? The Lord felt the bitter sting of winter and the searing heat of summer. He grew tired. His meals refreshed His body. He must have gotten a haircut some time in His life. “There is no beauty that we should desire Him” says that Jesus was a common man committed to doing an uncommon thing.
It is hard to imagine God becoming not just man but becoming a common man. He did not come with the pomp of nobility and splendor of earthly prestige although He was “only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). He came to be like me. And I thank God for that.
The people of Nazareth could not see the carpenter’s son as anything but the boy who lived next door. “So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son” (Luke 4:22)? He was so common the home town folk could not see His divinity. John would write, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’” (John 6:42)? He was a man that lived in Nazareth, they knew His parents, His family, His habits, His life – yet they did not know Him for who He really was.
It is easy to think that if we lived during the time of Jesus we would immediately be able to pick Him out of the crowd. When Jesus shared the last supper with His disciples there was nothing special that stood out to humanity about this event in an upper room; must less a cup the Lord drank from. Soon after this final meal the man from Nazareth was nailed to a common cross and the world took no note. There were no angels singing as was His birth. There would be no glowing face of the Lord on the cross. He would look like the man on His right and the man on His left. He would be humiliated with His bodily discharges and mournful cry on the cross as a man. Death would take Him as it takes all men. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).
The Roman soldiers would take Him from the cross and pull the nails from His hands and feet. Nicodemus and Joseph would carefully wash the body of Jesus and carry Him the distance to the tomb. Can you see these two men carrying the dead body of Jesus? He was a common man who suffered the common fate of all men – death.
A new day came. The first day of the week the common man became uncommon. Sabbath plus one the world changed. That man from Nazareth was not found in the tomb. Jesus had risen. The power of the gospel is found in the joy of resurrection day. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
As I look upon my Savior and marvel at His divine power and might, I am humbled that He had to share in the frailties of human flesh. But He became like me. He was common. He did not possess any attributes that would make Him stand out in the crowd. But He stands out for me.