If Jesus were to walk into a room today, would you embrace Him? Many of us would immediately cry “Yes, of course!” What if he was not polished to perfection or handsome? What if he was dressed as a homeless person and covered in dirt? What then? Would you still embrace him?
Isaiah 53 describes Jesus this way, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
Jesus was not beautiful or attractive in his human form by the standard of outward appearances. Christians find Jesus beautiful – interestingly without having seen Him.
1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” As Christians, we know and assess what is beautiful by looking at the fruit of what comes from the heart.
Rejecting true beauty
Growing up I remember hearing people shaking their heads and saying, “If Jesus were to walk in right now in the clothes of a poor man, the people would run him out.” I did not quite understand what they meant at the time, but I do now. Sadly, Jesus does too.
In Matthew, Jesus gives the teachers of the law and the Pharisees a rebuke: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside, you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness!” (23: 27-28)
These are strong words from Jesus about what it means to be truly beautiful. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have only the appearance of looking beautiful. Inside they are sinful. Sin is ugly and rejects what is true, good, and beautiful. When we reject those who are externally different in form or what we deem as unpleasant, we also reject Jesus.
When we do not care for the poor, the widows, the orphans, or the sick, we even do not care for Jesus (Matthew 25:43). Not to say that action is enough since the attitude of the heart is what God judges. So, sin rejects God, who is truly beautiful.
True beauty comes from within. True beauty is not something we can achieve on our own.
Peter writes, “[Your beauty] should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight" (1 Peter 3:4).
God considers our dependence on Him beautiful.
Consider the Proverbs 31 woman; she diligently cares for her husband and family, and “she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy" (verse 20). The Proverbs 31 woman depends on God and blesses others with her life. Verse 30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
There is an inner beauty that shines through a woman who is faithful to the Lord. It is no different for men.
Furthermore, the God-Man, Jesus, did the most beautiful things on the earth. Jesus healed the sick, caused the blind to see, and set the captives free (Luke 4:18). In His human form, Jesus may not have been beautiful, but everything Jesus did for the Father most certainly is beautiful (John 8:28).
Psalm 50:2 says, “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” God shines because he is perfectly good and perfectly true.
True beauty exists in the image of the cross of Jesus Christ. The Father sent the Son to die and rise again to free us, and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. It is the Triune God that reveals to us, the creation, that which is truly beautiful.
To know that which is truly beautiful, we need only to look to the Creator God in the fullness of the Trinity. Accepting and embracing the truly beautiful is to be obedient to Love, which means loving God so much that it pours out of us in our actions towards others. The inside of us is so full of love that the outside radiates that love. The beautiful is not empty “whitewashed tombs” that lack every good thing.
The beautiful depend on God, walk carefully with Him, and heed His commands. The beautiful reflect the glory of God in all that they do as they only seek to shine His light in the earth. Let us be the truly beautiful giving God the Father all the glory by shining His light for all to see (Matthew 5:16).