Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:1-3)
What Did Jesus Look Like?
As the teacher was walking through her classroom she noticed one little girl intently drawing in her notebook. Inquiring what the little girl was so focused on she replied that she was drawing a picture of God. The teacher gently admonished the little girl that no one knew what God looked like and the little girl replied, “They will when I get finished.” Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God was a spirit and He must be worshiped as a spirit. In the Revelation John saw One seated on the throne but no information is given as to his visage with any certain details apart from having an appearance of jasper and sardius stone. Jesus on the other hand left His spiritual abode with the Father and became like a man taking on the form of a man and living in the flesh of the carnal man. His conception was by the power of the Holy Spirit but His birth was exactly like any other human. Jesus was born in due time and was wrapped in swaddling clothes as newborn babies would be treated. He had to learn to talk, to walk and move about and to learn how to eat and care for Himself. First as a young child in the city of Bethlehem He did what all young children do and then lived in Egypt for a time before settling in Nazareth where He would learn the trade of Joseph. Along with His brothers and sisters Jesus would be as ordinary as any Jewish boy in Israel. There was nothing unusual about Him from other children. As He grew into adolescences and his teen years His friends did not notice anything unusual about Him. He did startle the teachers at the Temple at the age of twelve but nothing is known of the next eighteen years as He grew into manhood.
Isaiah gives a hint to the appearance of Jesus in his prophetic text. Contrary to the Renaissance pictorials of Jesus glowing with a halo and shining face, the presentation of Jesus was unremarkable. If the text is taken to a certain conclusion Jesus was not an attractive man by any standards. The prophet Isaiah declared that if a person would look at Jesus there would be no beauty in Him that anyone would take notice. His face was as ordinary as any other Jewish citizen of Nazareth. In a crowd to twenty people no one would think the son of Mary as remarkable. On the yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem where thousands of people crowded the roads to worship the Lord God no one would have given Jesus a second glance. He was so unremarkable He was plain. His presence was unobtrusive and unpretentious. It is hard to imagine the Son of God could not be picked out of a crowd of people. Not until Jesus was thirty years old did people take notice of Him. When He began to teach people were astonished. As the miracles multiplied the crowds began to seek Him. Throughout the ministry of Jesus people were drawn to Jesus for many reasons but it was not because of his debonair good looks and charming smile. It was His gentle touch and His compassionate heart that would leave a lasting impression on others. The force of His words moved people to change their lives. Jesus did not come to win a popularity contest. In fact Jesus came to die on a Roman cross. What He looked like was of no importance. The physical imagery of the Son of God could have been the most remarkable picture in all of creation. God sent His Son to give His life for man and the unremarkable man from Nazareth finished the work of His heavenly Father when He died on the cross. Hanging on the cross there was no glory around His head, no angels singing alleluia and few people took great notice about the man in the middle. He was a criminal and deserved to die. Only a handful of faithful disciples looked at the haggard face of Jesus and saw the love of God.
Isaiah’s statement about the coming Christ is critical for men to embrace and see the purpose of life. Jesus was a beautiful person because of what He was and who He was. His work was to save all men and through His blood bring all men to God. There is a divine purpose in looking at the man on the cross who had no form or comeliness and no beauty that we should desire Him. For those who are smitten with the grace of God what they seen in the cross is the most beautiful story man has ever known. They do not see the face of a man; they see the heart of God’s Son dying for their sins. He was despised and rejected by men but accepted by His Father. Jesus bore our sorrows and our grief so that we would be spared from the penalty of death. We hid our faces from Him but His face radiated the love of God. He was despised and while we did not esteem Him – the Savior asked His Father to forgive us. I know what the face of Jesus looked like. It is as clear as anything in this world. The face of Jesus is found in the word of God. Eyes of mercy, lips of grace, face of compassion and a heart willing to die for me. One of the great blessings of eternal life is found in John’s imagery of the Revelation. The aged apostle writes that we will see His face. I hope Jesus does not mind if I just reach out and touch that face. It is such a beautiful face.