While reading through Isaiah 53, I was struck by the prophetic vision of the Suffering Servant. The prophet describes Jesus as having “no majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him.” I think what he’s saying is that there was nothing about Jesus that would move you to take a second glance. That when Jesus walked by, nobody was doing a double take.
The other day, Derek, Shainu and I saw a wooden set of mini-statues called “The Last Supper.” 13 figures were sitting in a circle with bread and wine before them. We tried to find ‘which one was Jesus.’ We couldn’t. We kept looking to see if the artist had left any clues as to the One that stood out. Nothing. Then it dawned on us. In a sense, that’s exactly right. If you had a polaroid of Jesus and His disciples, you wouldn’t be able to tell which one was Jesus. The popular portraits are wrong. There was no halo around his head or extra bleach in his tunic or rays of light shooting from his heart. He looked like everyone else. Whatever a first century Jew looked like, Jesus looked like. There was no majesty or beauty about Him that we should be drawn to Him.
But that’s crazy. I mean read the Old Testament and all over the place you see God described as beautiful and majestic. When the people in Isaiah’s day thought of God – words like splendor, brilliant, and glorious came to mind. You’d have an easier time staring at the sun than looking at the face of God.
The wonder of the Incarnation. The One who was clothed in beauty and majesty clothed himself in humanity. Jesus, from whose splendor angels hid their faces in chapter 6, becomes the one from whom men would “hide their faces” in chapter 53 – but for very different reasons.
For our sake, He had no beauty. How beautiful.