There is no beauty that we should desire him

A lot of artistic depictions of the Saviour depict him as – at least what I’ve been told – a handsome man. Indeed I’ve heard more than one story where investigators being taught by missionaries have become distracted by the alleged attractiveness of the art work. And that’s hardly something confined to LDS artwork, as one can see in the variety of depictions, including in cinema and including the oft-mocked ‘Boxing Jesus‘ (though personally – while everyone else in the seminar laughed at it – I kind of have a soft spot for that one).

Yet the one time the scriptures speak of Christ’s attractiveness, it paints a different picture:

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

(Isaiah 53:2)

Now, since Isaiah was prophesying, rather than being present in person, it’s possible that what he’s saying here doesn’t reflect on actual physical appearance. But it might do, and the broader point is true either way. Christ wasn’t ‘attractive’ – most of those whom he taught in mortality turned away or rejected him. Likewise his superficial background wasn’t appealing: “can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” This is very human, as we often judge on such superficial grounds; never mind our entertainment (where goodness is often portrayed as being physically attractive, and evil as physically ugly), perceptions of physical attractiveness affect the outcome of our legal system (see here and here)! But Isaiah reminds us here that these human judgements are flawed. Truth can come in unattractive packages, and healing and salvation – indeed the Messiah himself – was and is to be found in someone that the world did not desire.

Edit: fixed link to Boxing Jesus

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