2010 11 21

Behold the Beauty of the Christ!

Reverend Anthony R. Locke

November 21st, 2010  www.FirstPresTucker.org

at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker

Daniel 7:9-14 Christ the King Day English Standard Version

9 “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.

10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire.

12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.[1]

I have a book from an artist who spent years studying the face of Jesus represented in early Christian art. His conclusion is that the paintings reveal a similarity of artistic decisions about eye spacing and shape, face contour, nose shape, hair length, chin size, etc, and through this collection of artistic decisions an image of Jesus emerges. His thesis is that we can reconstruct the likeness of Jesus close enough that a New Testament saint would recognize the painting as representing Jesus.

But as Jesus told Mary, we can’t cling to His physical appearance. That isn’t what abiding in Christ means. The physical appearance of Jesus is not the focus of our gaze as we draw near.

Isaiah 53:2 says that Jesus had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. When Jesus walked the earth He didn’t look like royalty. He didn’t stand head and shoulders above the crowd like King Saul. He didn’t have a handsome form like King David or great hair like Absalom. Jesus looked like an average man of his culture. His physical appearance wasn’t note worthy.

Yet, the only means to draw a sinner to God is the beauty of Jesus. Like a moth to a flame we are irresistibly drawn to Jesus when we are awakened in our soul to see Him as He is revealed in the Gospel narrative. That’s not physical. We are talking about a beauty of soul or the heart.

Wanting to gaze at this beauty isn’t voyeurism, but a holy desire. Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

But how do we describe this beauty? Saying Jesus is beautiful without details isn’t helpful.

A song from CeCe Winan called “Jesus You’re Beautiful” makes my point. Jesus, You’re beautiful to me, Oh Lord You are so beautiful, Oh, beautiful, So, beautiful, So, beautiful, Jesus, You’re beautiful to me Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Jesus, You’re beautiful to me, Wonderful, Heavenly, beautiful Jesus, You’re beautiful to me.

The song reminds me of a shake from Cold Stone Ice Cream Shop. I like the peanut butter chocolate shake, but in that cup is over 2,000 calories. Overt sugary worship makes me gag too.

The Bible leads us to discern the beauty of Christ in concrete terms.

The beauty of Jesus isn’t mystical. The beauty of Jesus isn’t in the eye of the beholder. The beauty of Jesus isn’t open for one’s own personal interpretation.

By the Holy Spirit we discern the beauty of Jesus. Isaiah 33:17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty. We may only see through a glass darkly, but we can see Him.

So what about Jesus is beautiful?

Jesus is beautiful in His obedience. Jesus does not use the magnetism of His personality to attract others. Jesus doesn’t fake charm to attract sinners. The Devil is charming, but (Proverbs 31:30) Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but the person who fears the LORD shall be praised.

Jesus is beautiful for He fears God. Jesus obeys the will of God and this obedience leads Him all the way to the cross. By His obedience we see His righteousness and we experience God’s love.

In Jesus we see love that looks out for the interests of others before Himself. He puts our needs before His needs. All the facets of love detailed in 1 Corinthians 13 are discovered in the loving obedience of Jesus. His love perseveres in covenantal faithfulness for all eternity. Truly beautiful.

Jesus is beautiful in His obedience to the will of the Father that delivers God’s costly love.

The beauty of Jesus is not in His physical body, but in His actions which uncover a beautiful soul. We read earlier Isaiah 53:2, but hear the next three verses: Jesus had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He 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. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But 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.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. This is the most loving act of friendship you will ever see.

The beauty of Jesus is not found in His clothes or the way He arranges His appearance.            1 Peter 3:3-4 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Jesus possesses imperishable beauty for He has a gentle and quiet spirit. The only time Jesus ever described His own inner person was in Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Find me a young person with meekness and I’ll show you a beautiful person. Find me an powerful person with gentleness, and I’ll show you a beautiful person. Jesus shares the peace and rest in His heart with your heart. His power was fully submitted to the Father. That’s meekness.

Humility is beautiful at any age and at every stage of life. We don’t criticize humble people. We keep proud people are arms length. God does too. God resists the proud. There’s nothing winsome about a proud person, but humble people are a joy to have around. And that’s Jesus: meek and lowly.

The beauty of Jesus is found in the radiant splendor of His appearance. This light is a manifestation of His holiness, but lets talk about the light itself first. Revelation 4:2-3 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.

The appearance of Jesus in heaven is best described by glorious jewels filled with light cascading a rainbow of majesty. John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Jesus can light up your life with His goodness, His glory and His beauty.

The light of Jesus illuminates the eternal city. Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. Before the 2008 presidential election the media called one of the candidates for the presidency a luminary, “able to light the path for future peace and prosperity, for America and the world.” Well, that would make someone a beautiful person indeed. Jesus is that true luminary for the world.

The beauty of Jesus is like a pleasant fragrance. 2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ. Jesus is intoxicating, and the more time we spend with Jesus the more beautiful of a fragrance we become to God. Reminds us of the young lady who confronted Peter and said, Matthew 26:73, surely you are also one of them for your speech betrays you.

The more we abide in Christ, the more we model the obedience that Jesus gave to the Father, and our life becomes conformed to His righteousness. We then become the fragrance of Christ.

The beauty of Jesus will be seen by us all in His resurrected body. Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. This isn’t a divergence from the earlier truth that the beauty of Jesus isn’t found in His physical body. The natural body of Jesus was an average human body, but His resurrected body is glorious and beautiful. When He subjects all things to Himself He subdues the sin in our body and remakes our body into the same kind of body that he was given in His resurrection.

The world is seeking this beauty, but it is only found in Jesus. Psalm 96:6 Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. It’s found by falling on our knees.

God’s beauty is seen in the face of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The world looks for beauty in art, architecture, the sky, the sciences, math, logic and other places hoping that by finding ultimate beauty that their own souls will be made right, given peace,  beautified and transformed. Some false religions go so far as to propose that in heaven we get absorbed into the beauty of the heavenly reality. The Bible doesn’t teach that we lose our identity.

But ultimate beauty has shined upon the earth and our hearts in the face of Jesus Christ. We need not look at the creation, but the Creator who visited the creation. Jesus the Son of Man. Jesus is the exact image of the Father. Jesus shines as the most beautiful person to ever live for He brings to all of humanity the ultimate beauty that can be found in God alone. And God shares it.

We share His splendor and majesty in the eternal resurrection unto abundant, eternal life. Acts 17:25-28, He gives to all life…28 in Him we live and move and have our being.

Jesus shares His beauty with the partner He chooses. Proverbs 12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband. We are the crowning beauty of Jesus. He (Psalm 103:3-5) pardons all our iniquities; heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit and crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion. The Bride is the crown of His beauty forever. Wow.

The beauty of Jesus will increase. Isaiah 4:2 In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious. Psalm 50:2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.

There is a day coming when Isa. 24:23, The moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously.  As beautiful as the moon is at night, and as glorious as the sun is at day, they will both be ashamed to shine when compared to the glorious light of the Son of God that sneaked a peek on the mount of transfiguration. Matthew 17:2 Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun.

1 John 1:5 Jesus is light and in him is no darkness at all. This light is promised in our Benediction. Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Now and forever more. It is the grace of God in the face of Jesus the Son. Beautiful indeed.

The beauty of Jesus is a transforming power. 2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. 1 John 3:2, we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. His light and glory will transform our soul to be beautiful like His.

And the highest vista for us to peer into the beauty of the Christ is when we see Jesus fully ascended and glorified as the Holy One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

Daniel 7 helps us to see the beauty of His power, majesty and glory most fully discovered in His absolute holiness. Isaiah saw the Lord High and lifted up with His glory filling the temple.

And this is the image of Jesus we should seek. To know Jesus in His righteousness. To know Him as the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world; as the Lion subduing His enemies.

Song of Solomon 5:16, Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my friend!

And the Father uses this beauty to draw you to Jesus in repentance and faith. It is like the response given in Zachariah 12:10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

When we first see the beauty of Jesus, our hearts break for we see the scars. We see what our sin did to the most beautiful person to ever walk this earth. God uses our weeping to make us poor in spirit. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven Matthew 5:3. And by the power of this beauty we are drawn to Jesus and become citizens of a new creation.

May God bless us all with eyes to see and ears to hear the beautiful voice of our Savior.  Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.