Jesus wasn't ugly.
Let me dodge the argument about Isaiah 53 right off the bat, for those of you who know the Bible, by saying I'm not talking about the assumed physical beauty of the Messiah. That's a different discussion that we can have at some point. Remind me.
Spending some time reading through Luke 15 this morning, I came across this very simple phrase:
"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him." (Luke 15:1, ESV; italics added)
People who had been burned, spurned and turned out by religion flocked to Jesus.
People who were living lives of wanton greed and personal darkness set aside self and wealth and hunted for the Nazarene carpenter.
People who had no reason to think God has room for them in the plan suddenly thought differently.
Jesus attracted people. They drew near to Him. He drew people who were walking, oozing wounds of aching human need and he gave them rest and hope and peace-to-go into their everyday walking world.
As someone who is passionately involved in discipleship, I have to ask a question in relation to this verse: do I present an attractive Jesus with my life?
A good, beautiful and true Jesus who gives hope to the hopeless and good news to the inheritors of bad news?
One of the challenging things about the teaching and writing on discipleship today is that much of it is geared toward habits, rhythms, disciplines and moral or ethical behaviors. I have no problem with any of that, and frankly our lives get a significant upgrade if we think more about our morality and ethics.
This is not attractive, however. Frankly, it's not even specifically Christian. I struggle with whether or not some contemporary discipleship is even Christian because it seems so much like simple modification of behaviors.
What was attractive about Jesus was the fruit - the life that emerged from being in lockstep with the Creator God - that dripped from His every word and action because His heart was completely bent toward His Father. People are not attracted by a new moral code, they are attracted by the nuclear core that is a transformed life in Christ.
Furthermore, Jesus didn't have to live morally. He lived like His Father was real, caring, and sufficient and that way of living naturally flowed into beauty, truth, and goodness.
Are you living a life of discipleship that attracts people? Are you being transformed in such a way that you are drawing people toward that way of living, breathing, and moving?
Or is our transformation becoming ugly, both to us and to others, because it only dips into the epidermis layer of our soul?
If we are transformed at the core, we will experience a drawing near - both of ourselves to God and of others to us.