Sue and I were blessed in the last couple of months by the birth of two grandsons, and suddenly, all of the ladies among our family and friends turned into statisticians! How many inches? How many pounds? How many ounces? How many hours in labor? How many hours of pushing? Their friends wanted to know all of the details!
So it struck me as strange this year when I looked down into the manger at the baby Jesus. Do you know what I saw in clear detail there? NOTHING! Nowhere do we read what that baby looked like! Was he chubby? Was he a “preemie?” Was he red and wrinkled?
It is a Christmas mystery really. WHY would God send Jesus physically to earth as a baby and yet keep us from knowing any of the details about Him that are the constant topic of conversation of mothers throughout the earth? When we look at the clues, the first thing we notice is …
God keeps our focus off the physical appearance of Jesus throughout His entire life!
Have you ever stopped to think about that?
We have NO physical description of Jesus in the Bible.
By contrast, we know that…
- King Saul was so tall that the other Jews came up to his shoulders, and that
- David was ruddy and handsome…
- Absalom had long beautiful hair for a guy, and that
- Paul had weak eyes and squinted to see, and that
- King Eglon in the Old Testament was so extremely fat that when Ehud stabbed him with a sword, his rolls of fat covered it as he slumped over, so the sword could not be seen… even the handle.
Why in the world would we know such PHYSICAL details about people that in the big picture of things are not that important, and yet have not ONE SINGLE DESCRIPTION of the most pivotal person in the history of the world as He walked upon this earth?
Honestly, why do we have ZERO physical description of the greatest man in history?
The shortest answer is this: God didn’t think it was important for us to know.
Ironically, there has never been a single person in the entire history of this world who has been the subject of more paintings, sketches, statues, and frescoes!
We focus SO MUCH on the physical looks of Jesus, but God doesn’t think it matters for us to know that at all!
Let me ask YOU: When you pray, what does Jesus look like in your imagination?
Just for fun, try now to picture Him completely differently than that.
What if He were bald? Short? What if He had a jutting jaw, like Jay Leno, or a huge overbite? What if His teeth were crooked, BADLY crooked?
Do you know what the ONLY thing is that we know about the looks of Jesus while He was on earth?
He was in disguise.
God designed His appearance to be non-attractive physically.
…He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
Once, when Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, He met with Moses and Elijah in a supernatural summit meeting. The interesting thing that made Peter, James, and John notice that this was not going to be an ordinary prayer time with Jesus was this:
As he was praying, the appearance of His face changed…
Let’s pay close attention to that word… “APPEARANCE.” The word in Greek is usually translated as form or shape. So Luke 9:29 could just as easily be translated…
As He was praying, the FORM or BODILY SHAPE of His face changed…
I find it interesting that when Jesus met with Moses and Elijah, His face altered its appearance for a short time.
I think that when Jesus walked this earth, God purposefully fashioned His face in such a form or shape that He was nothing to look at, even though as the Son of God He could have chosen to be naturally good-looking beyond all expectation… without the disguise of an ordinary man.
God keeps our focus off the physical appearance of Jesus. But not only that …
God even keeps our focus off physical things that Jesus touched!
We know from the Bible that Jesus was a carpenter. The other day I began to wonder … If we found a chair or a table that we absolutely, positively could prove was made by Jesus Himself in His dad’s carpentry shop in Nazareth… how much do you think it would sell for?
Millions? Hundreds of millions? To have the one piece of furniture on earth that the hands of Jesus actually touched and sawed, hammered and filed into smoothness and beauty?
You could never put a price on it.
That led me to notice something very odd: The Bible almost never mentions the things that He touched.
Four biographies by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John … along with many other verses that mention His life … and they are STRANGELY empty of the little physical details.
Obviously, He must have leaned on tables and sat on things, and obviously He touched things and used tools in His trade as a worker of wood …
But did you ever notice the things that the Bible tells us that Jesus actually DID put His hands on? They are almost all things that could never be saved…
- He spit on the ground and made mud…
- He wrote in the dust with His finger. This is the only thing that we know from Scripture that He ever actually wrote on … dust.
What other things did His hands touch?
- Bread, when He broke it for the disciples.
- Fish, when He fed the five thousand.
- And people. He touched lots and lots of people.
It’s odd, isn’t it? Bread cannot be saved, and fish decay, and people are buried, and mud dries, and dust (no matter how wonderful the things written in it) is a medium that is very specifically designed to go away and leave no traces.
It began to dawn on me that God was being VERY careful to avoid any focus on the physical.
And so as we begin to put those thoughts together, we see that God had no interest in us thinking about or focusing on the way Jesus looks physically, and He did not want us to collect “Jesus stuff” or put it in museums.
WHY IS GOD SO INTENT ON DE-EMPHASIZING THE PHYSICAL? I am convinced that it is this:
GOD KEEPS OUR ATTENTION OFF THE PHYSICAL BECAUSE IT IS THE SPIRITUAL THAT MATTERS MOST.
When a person dies… what goes away?
They rush someone in from an accident scene, and they are dead on arrival at the hospital.
- Do they lack oxygen? We have machines that can pump oxygen into them at a far greater rate than they have ever experienced!
- Do they lack the pump of the heart, pushing the blood around the body? We have machines that can pump the blood around the body at whatever volume per minute that we tell them to!
- Do they lack the electrical energy of brain waves? We can give them as much electricity… or as little, as we choose!
- Do they lack the nutrients and foods that keep us going? We have concentrated nutrients on hand at all times.
But the doctor comes out, takes off his mask, and says to the family, “I’m sorry. He’s gone.”
What does that mean? Someone stole his body? No, his body is still there; everything is intact. The heart is in place, the lungs are in place, we’ve replaced the blood he lost, but HE is gone.
What is gone when the body is still there? ANSWER? The spirit.
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
THE BODY WITHOUT THE SPIRIT IS DEAD.
Jesus Himself confirmed what James said when He taught…
The spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
Christmas (Christian-style) means that the spiritual side of life is everything. It isn’t an ASPECT of our lives; it is how we “do” all of the sides of our lives.
The shepherds dropping their duties and their sleep… the wise men leaving their countries… There is something in each of us that longs to leave the nets of our everyday existence and go on God’s adventure. That “something” is our spirit.
Jesus came to DEMONSTRATE the joy that comes when we live life on a spiritual basis. In Him is fullness of life!
THE SPIRITUAL PART OF LIFE IS THE PART THAT WE USUALLY OVERLOOK, BUT TO GOD IT IS THE SOURCE AND CENTER OF OUR ENTIRE LIVES!!
SO… HOW ARE YOU DOING, SPIRITUALLY?
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
CHRISTMAS (CHRISTIAN-STYLE) IS ALL ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL LIFE.
There is a spiritual hunger that each human feels (often without realizing what it is).
Without the spiritual awakening that comes from God’s truth, our lives will always be lived on the lower plane of existence that Jude was warning us about when he wrote,
THESE are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
WHEN OUR SPIRIT IS AWAKENED TO SPIRITUAL TRUTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, GOD PERMITS US TO GO ON HIS GREAT LIFE-ADVENTURE.
Are you living in the spiritual power of Jesus, today? Have you tapped into that life in the Spirit that characterized His earthly life? Or are you only living life focused on the physical realm, and never focusing on the spiritual side of things?
May you focus on the unseen beauty of Jesus this Christmas season!