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What Is Beauty?

14 Jun

A post from several years ago about the beauty found in Christ.

13Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— 15so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. 1Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.  Isaiah 52:13-53:12

This is a very long and detailed passage. There is a lot that we could discuss.  Today as I read these fifteen verses, I am drawn to the second part of verse two of chapter 53.  That draws my mind to this question: what is beauty?  What makes something attractive to us?  Why do I think the dark haired woman that just entered Starbucks is more attractive than her blonde friend?  Doesn’t that reduce beauty to a very subjective and relative state?  Surely true beauty is more than that.

I am somewhat taken aback by the aforementioned verse.  This passage, oft called the gospel in the Old Testament, is one of the longest continuous prophecies about Christ.  So as I read this part of verse two, I wonder, wasn’t Christ good-looking?  I mean He was God.  Although I doubt He looked anything like the various pictures people paint of Him, surely He was attractive.  The prophet says something quite different of the coming Messiah though:

“nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him”

So why is this such a shock to me?  Why am I so certain that Jesus was in fact beautiful?

What do I know of Him?  Well to start I know nothing of His appearance, other than He probably had much darker skin than me and some Jewish features.  I do know things He said and did though.  Is this enough to make someone beautiful?  I have never heard the voice of the previously mentioned dark haired woman.  All I know is of her appearance, some of her sense of fashion, and of the presence of a quite large diamond ring on her left hand.  Yet I would say that Jesus is far more beautiful than her or any person I have met or seen.  Well then, words and actions must be a far more critical criteria for determining beauty than physical appearance.

Honestly though, I do not live this way.  Much too often I let someone’s outward appearance determine whether or not I will befriend them.  It hits me rather hard when I realize that if I applied this norm to Christ, I might choose to have nothing to do with Him.  I could blame society or the media for this type of thinking, but they are not at fault.  My own shallowness is.

Today I plead with you to leave His footprints by looking for beauty that is deeper than skin level.  Search for it in the words and actions of others.

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Bible, Culture, Life

 

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