Jesus Was Ugly

jesuscatA few years back a guy decided to have a problem with me and jumped on me for having made the statement in a sermon that Jesus was ugly. He came from a Catholic background and I don’t think he could quite wrap his head around this concept.

I tried explaining to him that my statement was based on Isaiah 53 but he would not budge and never quite saw my point.

Isaiah 53:2 says there is no beauty that we should desire Messiah. “No beauty” means there is nothing attractive about him. Nothing attractive can be loosely translated as: he’s ugly.

Furthermore, Isaiah 53:3 says we hid our faces from him. The expression, according to Keil and Delitzsch, prominent Hebrew scholars, means “like one whose repulsive face it is impossible to endure.”

Now, I understand why this is offensive to some, it shatters our romantic notions. But I do believe scripture must triumph over romance.

To me the fact that Jesus was ugly is perfect. It makes too much sense. It’s the exact opposite of what people desire. It’s the exact opposite of what men would devise. Modern pictures of Jesus do not show an ugly man, humans wouldn’t hang up pictures of ugly guys over their reading chairs.

Is there doctrinal significance to his ugliness? Only to the extent of understanding the suffering of Christ. A man acquainted with sorrow means a guy whose life was constant anguish. Every aspect of his life was horrendous suffering.

I think we miss out on that when we replace the Jesus of Scripture with the Jesus of romance. Makes it seem like his salvation mission was more of a vacation from heaven.

Keep it real.

4 thoughts on “Jesus Was Ugly”

  1. “Furthermore, Isaiah 53:3 says we hid our faces from him. The expression, according to Keil and Delitzsch, prominent Hebrew scholars, means “like one whose repulsive face it is impossible to endure.””

    Jeff, isn’t this a reference to His appearance on the cross?

  2. Good point Steve. I don’t know that Isaiah 53 is specifically about the cross itself all the time, although it is the ultimate point of it. “He grew up before him” isn’t referring to the cross. “a man of sorrows” describes his entire life. Like a sheep who is quiet is always used in reference to his trials. His power over illness is always used to refer to his power to heal people during his life. I guess I would not limit it to the cross although, as I said, it is the ultimate point.

  3. I’m reasonably certain that none of Isaiah was written after the fifth century BC. It would seem that an argument about the appearance of Jesus would need to be made on the basis of a New Testament account.

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