JESUS WAS NOT ONE OF THE PRETTY PEOPLE

“Behold, My servant shall prosper, He shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.  According as many were appalled at thee – So marred was his visage unlike that of a man, And his form unlike that of the sons of men – So shall he startle many nations, Kings shall shut their mouths because of him; For that which had not been told them shall they see, And that which they had not heard shall they perceive.” [1]

The Book of Isaiah has several references to “My Servant” which point to the eventual historical Jesus for most Old Testament scholars.  For those of us who are not trained biblical scholars, we can still sense that the reflections of the Holy Scriptures point to the man, Jesus, but somehow have a broader meaning for those of us who adopt the calling of being servants of the Most High, ourselves.  This passage is confirmed in Peter’s first sermon[2] on Pentecost about 700 years after Isaiah wrote it.  If the LORD referred to our Lord as His servant, how can we not also adopt the calling of servant as well?

This servant is prophesied to be one who prospers (according to the Masoretic text) while other translations proffer the Hebrew word “sakal” to mean prudent, acting wisely, having success and understanding.  The concept of “prosperity” for most Americans seems to generally involve materiality, such as money.  But, prudence and wisdom tend to localize the meaning of the verse quite differently.  Verse 13 speaks in future tense while verse 14 speaks in past tense (at least, for the English reader).  It is as though that which is yet to happen has already happened.  The description of the servant is not a flattering visage, but rather indicating a disfigurement of the servant’s face.  Is this describing someone not sporting a comely appearance or is it reflective of the eventual abuse inflicted upon him during his pre-crucifixion sufferings?  Nevertheless, this word-image does not mesh with the all-too-typical paintings of the Christ who has a handsome physical beauty.  What drew people to Jesus was not the 21st century marketing concept of youth and beauty.  There was a “something else” which drew people to him.  So, Jesus could probably not have been included in the highly valued “pretty people” of our generation.  In fact, he may not have been attractive at all…what if he was deemed as “ugly or homely”?

Even with the handicap that straps the majority of we common folk, there was that “something”.  Perhaps the 20th century song-writer, Bill Gaither, was capturing the essence when he wrote There’s Something About That Name.  Verse 15 states that this servant will startle (Hebrew word that means sprinkle, spatter or splash) many nations.  Although his primary mission was to the lost sheep of Israel, Jesus did come in contact with many non-Jews during his travels.  He splashed the Roman centurion’s servant[3], the Syro-Phoenician woman’s demonized daughter[4] or the Samaritan woman at the well[5] – all were gentiles from the surrounding nations.  He gave these a brief taste of his coming kingdom.  They were recipients of the residue of his grace, the “crumbs” as the Canaanite woman[6] described it.  However, Isaiah prophesized that the powerful would end up shutting their mouths (e.g. The rulers of the temple[7], the rich young ruler[8] or powerful Pilate[9].)  These rulers had never previously been exposed to the heavenly wisdom on display via their encounter with this servant of the Most High.  Isaiah said that such rulers would see and hear a wisdom that they had never before encountered.  The question is:  What will they do with these things?  Will understanding these eternal truths cause them to adjust the way they live, how they live or what they steward?  The Kingdom of God was at hand…and still is.

Can we receive this “Good News” broadcast from One whose appearance is disfigured, marred and broken?  Do we place so much emphasis on the appearance of the messengers that we miss the beautiful feet that bring good tidings and announces salvation[10]?  Jesus was not one of the PRETTY PEOPLE, but he had beautiful feet!


[1].  Isaiah 52:13-15

[2].  Acts 2:23

[3].  Matthew 8:5-13

[4].  Mark 7:24-30

[5].  John 4:5-26

[6].  Matthew 15:21-28

[7].  John 8:1-12

[8].  Matthew 19:16-22

[9].  John 18:28-38

[10]. Isaiah 52:7

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