Read Isaiah 53:1-3
1 Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care. (NLT)
We live in an age where physical appearance is all-important. People are famous not because of any particular achievement but because they are glamorous. We envy and admire those who have glamour.
And if we who belong to the Christian church think we are beyond this, take a look at publicity brochures and websites: we tend to focus on the good looking people who are blooming in health and happiness. Celebrity pastors and preachers seem to have perfect teeth and skin and never seem to age. (Some of us are thereby thankful for the anonymity of email!).
This passage reminds us that our values are distorted. This text is usually interpreted as a prophecy of Jesus. So we are given to understand that Jesus was no glamour boy. You wouldn’t be drawn to him simply by his charismatic good looks. Of course we don’t know what Jesus looked like, but we can be sure he was a man of ‘Middle Eastern appearance’, not at all a creation of the Hollywood glamour machine featuring blonde hair and blue eyes.
Jesus transcends the superficiality of appearances. He lived in an age before hair stylists and orthodontists. We will never know exactly what he looked like. But we do know what he lived like. And that is enough.