What did Jesus Christ look like?
In this “The Truth Will Set You Free” TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista of Miami’s Calvary Chapel Aventura and I will study the “Suffering Servant” prophecies found in Isaiah 53 that were fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ.
The Face of the Messiah
Nathan Jones: The second half of Isaiah 53:2 gets really interesting:
“He [the Messiah] had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”
Isaiah 52:14 also gives us that prophecy: “His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Many who looked upon Jesus’ appearance after he was brutalized by the Roman soldiers were appalled. Jesus’ appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and marred beyond human likeness. Isaiah was prophesying about the time when Jesus Christ would be beaten, His beard plucked out, He’d be punched in the face so many times, and the soldiers would give Him a crown of thorns crushed into His head. His face was just covered in blood. It says in the New Testament that when Jesus was presented before the people to be judged whether He should be released or Barabbas, that He was so disfigured that there was little human left to look at. The crowd was not even sure He was a man anymore He was so swollen and beaten.
The people didn’t look up to the beaten Jesus and say, “Oh, man, He’s beautiful! He’s gorgeous, so we need to install Him as King.” Instead, they thought He didn’t even look like a man anymore He was so disfigured. There was no beauty of majesty to his beaten form to make Him attractive.
A second interpretation of Isaiah 53:2 is that the Bible here is prophesying that the Messiah would be naturally physically unattractive. Some have taken it even further and believe that maybe Jesus was a homely person. He chose a body that wasn’t terribly attractive. Maybe He was short and balding young. We think about Jim Caviezel or some of these other great actors who have portrayed Jesus in the films when we imagine what Jesus would have looked like. But, there’s a good chance that Jesus wasn’t a very good looking person, according to this prophecy.
Vic Batista: Almost every portrait that we find of Jesus He looks like this buff, good looking, blue-eyed guy.
Nathan Jones: Sometimes in some of the pictures Jesus is depicted as emaciated, especially by the Catholic Church. But, true, overall Jesus throughout the centuries has been painted as a pretty decent looking guy with a beard and long hair, and always putting up His hand in a gesture of “Hello!” According to Isaiah, that may not be the case.
The idea behind Isaiah 52:2 is that when the Messiah came there would be nothing physical that would attract people to Him. Take for instance King Saul. The people wanted King Saul as king mostly because he was a head taller than everybody else. He was this huge and handsome warrior. Everyone was so impressed by Saul physically, and he was so incredibly good looking, that the Israelites wanted him to be king. We even see this predilection in corporations, and even in the churches. Many pastors and CEO’s are big, tall, good looking guys. Everyone thinks they are so great because they are so good looking. But, God didn’t want that superficiality. He wanted it to be when Jesus came that people wouldn’t be attracted to Him for physical reasons, but for the spiritual truths that He taught. The people were to be attracted to truth.
Vic Batista: Wow! That’s an excellent point, because even today that’s what Jesus wants. He wants us to be attracted to His beauty, which is His Word, and His Holy Spirit in living righteously. I believe those are the attributes that we need to uplift regarding our Lord.
Nathan Jones: Exactly! God prepared every reason possible for people not to turn to Jesus because of material or physical reasons. Think about it. Jesus was born in a stable where the animals live. He was placed in a trough, which was a manger, as a crib. He was born to the poorest of parents, peasants, and to a teenage girl. He lived a life in exile for a while in Egypt hiding. He grew up in a hick town. There was always controversy surrounding Jesus because it was believed that Mary and Joseph had Jesus out of wedlock, therefore there was all the scandal that flew around that. He was a Jew from Galilee, and Galilee was a despised area of Israel at the time. The rest of Israel’s people would say, “What good could ever come out of Galilee?”
There was nothing about Jesus that would attract people. He had no money. He just had the clothes on His back. He lived out in the wilderness most of the time as He and the Apostles traveled. By all accounts, there was nothing to attract people to Jesus physically.
But, it is irrefutable that Jesus has been the most world-changing person (if I can call Him a person) who has ever come out of human history. There are a billion people who worship Jesus as Savior today. Jesus has changed the world, and it had nothing to do with His physical appearance, the money in His pockets, or anything superficial like that. Change came purely by what He taught to the nations.
Vic Batista: Today everything is about being hip and being cool and trying to attract people with the trendy things, as opposed to the Word of God and the beauty of His Word.
Nathan Jones: So true! We spend a lot of our time chasing physical pleasures. We want to have the best clothes and the best cars. We are always getting face lifts and hair dyes, doing anything we can to try to be cool. Even in ministry we try to be cool to attract people to God’s Word. But, Jesus didn’t do any of that, He just taught God’s Word. He showed people love, and by doing so people were attracted to Him and His message.
Vic Batista: That is awesome! Nobody would be attracted to me because I don’t have any hair.
Nathan Jones: Yes, but you are cool man, Vic. I’d go to your church just because you are so cool. No, I’m kidding! You are cool because you teach the Bible straight out of the Bible and you show love to people all of the time. I am not trying to get your head to swell or anything, but you are a great example of how Christian ministers should be. It’s because of the love that you show people and by the Word of God that you are so seriously devoted to teaching — the whole Word of God and only the Word of God — that people see a little bit of Jesus Christ coming through you, and that attracts people to Him. All pastors should function that way.
You could have a fantastic 100 person choir, or you could have the best praise band in the world. You could have the trendiest looking Church sanctuary, but they’re nothing if as a pastor you are not sharing God’s Word in love and you are not portraying Jesus Christ as the Bible teaches.
Vic Batista: I really appreciate that. I really believe we need to uphold God’s Word, for this is really what’s important. If we are not showing people the Word of God and teaching them exactly what it has to say, we are doing a disservice to the Gospel.
Isaiah is opening up our eyes to this incredible prophecy and the reality of what Jesus may have really looked like and His motives for having such an unattractive appearance. Also, how Jesus looked at the Crucifixion. It’s all Bible prophecy being fulfilled.
In the third part of our study of Isaiah 53 and the Suffering Servant, Vic and I will look into at how the Messiah was a man of sorrow in verse 3.