Isaiah 53:2 says about Jesus, “He has no form or comeliness; and when we shall Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
Why is it that Isaiah refers to the outward appearance of Jesus Christ just prior to describing the Savior’s suffering on the Cross? It is clear that Isaiah’s intent is to impress upon us the sacrificial intensity of Christ’s character. It is indicative of His suffering physical condition just prior to His death on the Cross.
Israel certainly looked for a Messiah that looked regal and majestic. But, it was not Christ’s intent to present Himself as such. His outward appearance was not concerned about having a robust countenance. Rather, He presented Himself with having strength of character that determined to walk every inch of the road to Calvary, to endure every moment of pain at Calvary, and to bleed every necessary drop of blood on Calvary. It was with that mindset and attitude that bore the form and comeliness that made an eventual difference for the eternal outcome of people.
You and I are different, however. We live in a day and time when too much emphasis is placed on the comeliness of the outward form. We make it up, and we shape it up. We tan it up, and we tuck it up. We nutricize, exercise, and agonize over our outward forms to the exclusion of forming spiritual character as exemplified by Jesus Christ.
In reality, it is we who have no comeliness compared to Jesus Christ. Look at the flip side of the coin. Christ may not have looked good, but He was good with what counted most—-character. Though we try to look good, we often lack with what is most important—-character. Many of our emotional and spiritual problems may be traced to this very fact.
Has it ever occurred to you that an important directive from Scripture is that we allow God to develop in us and with us Christ-like character? For example, Scripture calls on us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Biblical instruction expects us to love others like Jesus Christ. We are to strive to be holy like Jesus Christ. We are called to step away from conformity to the world so that we can be transformed with renewed minds in Jesus Christ. We are enjoined to forgive others like Jesus Christ.
This last point brings to mind how, several years ago, I discussed with an embittered man in a church I pastored the issue of forgiveness. His unwillingness to practice forgiveness with some people in the church had produced a difficult personal character with which we all had to deal.
At the same time, the man claimed to have been a Christian for forty-five years. Hebrews 12:14-15 indicates that personal roots of bitterness affect others adversely, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
Nonetheless, his words were defiant, “Pastor, I know the Bible says to forgive. But, I do not believe that Christ expects us to forgive like He did!”
This is typical of the unfortunate mindset of many that Christ does not expect us to duplicate the qualities of His character. It is only until we accept the fact that God does expect us to strive to put into precise practice His principles for living that we can truly be pleasing to the Lord. Otherwise, it is we who will develop character that has no form or comeliness.
The over-all character of our society would, oh, most certainly, improve if we would determine to be more concerned with how we look spiritually rather than how we look physically.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.