An Unlikely Savior

Presidents, kings, and world leaders are very often, chosen for the way that they look. The method by which the Lord chooses a person is determined by their heart. Although David made many terrible mistakes throughout his life, it was his heart that caused the Lord to call him a man “after His own heart.” David was a kindred spirit with the Lord. David loved what the Lord loved and hated what His Lord hated. David’s love and worship of God is reflected by the Psalms that he wrote.

My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalms 84:2

David’s deep humility and sorrow for his sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah, were understood in their true failures: offenses against God. We see David’s attitude about his transgressions in the heartfelt words of Psalm 51.

(Lord) Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Psalms 51:4

David’s righteous anger towards those who hate and defy God, is an echo of the righteous judgment of the Lord, Himself. Even when David had an opportunity to take his revenge against king Saul in the cave at the Wilderness of En Gedi, David refused, saying:

The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, Saul, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way. 1Samuel 24:6-7.

Because of his great love and respect for the Lord, knowing that Saul was anointed by God to be the king of Israel, David would not dishonor the Lord by killing the one that He had appointed as the ruler of God’s people. David showed respect for the Lord, by showing respect for His king.

When we examine the kind of man that Jesus is, when He comes to earth as our Savior, we see a very humble, submissive, and loving friend. Although God could have chosen to annihilate ever person on this planet and start over again; instead He came to bear the judgement for what we have done and save us. If God was truly vengeful, angry, and seeking to send people to hell, we would all be there already. The Lord is not willing that any one of us should perish—eternally. For this reason, Jesus came to stop our future judgement and change our eternal destination. The problem for many people is that Jesus is not the kind of Savior that they want.

The Redeemer that is presented to us by Jesus, is not one that many would find attractive. Today, when people choose to follow and individual, this person must first be recognized by the world. They should be famous, wealthy, and powerful, before any great number of persons will follow them. The Messiah that the Bible presents, is not attractive, by the world’s standards. The prophet that Isaiah describes, has no physical beauty that would cause people to desire Him. In fact, He will be so greatly disfigured by the suffering of His crucifixion; He will not be recognizable as a man. It is His character , compassion, love, and mercy, that will attract and draw people to Him.

Isaiah 53:2b … He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Philippians 2:6-8 Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

A Correct Application

There are some who claim that Isaiah Chapter 53 is not a description of the Messiah at all, but a commentary on the nation of Israel. The claim by many critic’s is that what Isaiah wrote, cannot be attributed to Jesus Christ.

In the Book of Acts, the Lord spoke to Philip and told him to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. While on this road, Philip met a man who was apparently there by divine appointment. Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, had a servant who was returning from Jerusalem where he had been worshipping the God of Israel. While on his return journey, he was reading from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. As Philip meets this servant of the queen of Ethiopia, he asks this man if he understands what he is reading.

Acts 8:26-31 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

This prophecy had been written by Isaiah, seven hundred years before this chance meeting took place. The Ethiopian Eunuch asks Philip who the person is that Isaiah is referring to. Philip tells him that the prophecy is about Jesus, the Messiah.

Acts 8:32-35 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

Isaiah 53:7a He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

The purpose of this encounter, which has been recorded for us in the Book of Acts, is to confirm the prophecy of Isaiah 53, that it is, in-fact, speaking of Jesus Christ.

Again, in John Chapter 12, John writes that when Jesus is near the time of His crucifixion, those who had seen Him did not believe that He was the Messiah. John writes that their unbelief was a fulfillment of Isaiah Chapter 53, which was written for Jesus Christ.

John 12:36-38 “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

In this Old Testament Prophecy, Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would not be outwardly attractive. It was not His physical appearance that would draw people to Him. It would be His Love, the Grace that emanates from Him. It is His gentle manner and the unmistakable righteousness that flows out from His life.

In chapter 52 of his book, Isaiah writes that the physical appearance of the Messiah will be marred. This is to say, the Messiah will suffer in such a way, while here on earth, that His face will be greatly disfigured.

Isaiah 52:14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men.

This apparent disfigurement—descriptive of the Messiah, is precisely what the narrative of the Gospels attribute to Jesus. After Jesus is crucified, He is unrecognizable by those who first see Him after His resurrection. As the Lord stands before Mary, she does not recognize Him by His appearance. It is only after He speaks to her that she realizes it is Jesus.

John 20:13-16 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

On the road to Emmaus, the disciples who meet Jesus do not recognize Him until after He takes the bread and hands it to them. Apparently by stretching out His hands with the bread, the men see the scars from the nails in His wrists where He was crucified.

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Luke 24:13-16 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

Luke 24:30-31 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

The Messiah was not chosen for His physical attributes

When the people of Israel asked the Lord for their own king, they wanted a leader who was tall and handsome and looked like he was meant to be a king.

1 Samuel 9:1-2 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

Although the Lord warned that this kind of a king would place them into servitude, constrain their sons to serve in the king’s army, and collect high taxes from their earnings (1 Samuel 8:9-18), the people insisted that they be given a handsome and tall king who looked like the kings of the other nations. The Lord gave them the desire of their hearts. Saul was tall and handsome, but he did not have a true heart for the Lord.

Saul began well; but as is so often the case with many people who start out to serve the Lord, he did not finish well. When it came to the most crucial moment of his reign as the king of Israel, Saul would not obey the Lord’s command to utterly destroy the Amalekites. God had warned these people on many occasions, over a period of nearly, one-thousand years, to repent from the sacrifice of their children to Molech, and to turn to the God of Israel.

1 Samuel 15:18 “Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” 22 So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

The Lord had warned the people that the character of a king is not determined by his outward appearance but by His heart—in following all that the Lord commands. Because Saul rejected the Lord in leading His people; the Lord rejected Saul as the king of Israel. It is important to understand that what the Lord instructs us to do, are not suggestions; they are commands that we are to follow. If we truly believe that Jesus is our Lord, and that He is good, and has our best interests at heart, then we should be comfortable doing everything that He says. It is inconsistent to call Jesus Lord (Boss) and then not do what He says.

Luke 6:46 (Jesus speaking) But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

The Lord was desiring a king for Israel who was like-minded with Him. A man who would obey all that the Lord had instructed Him to do. Not to say that he would be perfect, for no man can always do what is right, but that his heart should desire to please the Lord in all things. When the Lord chose David, he was the youngest and most unlikely, of all the sons of Jesse, to be chosen as the next king of Israel.

As the oldest son, Eliab, is brought before Samuel, the prophet assumes that the Lord has chosen him. Like Saul, Eliab is tall and handsome and looks like a king.

1 Samuel 16:6-7 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the LORD’S anointed is before Him!” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

When the Lord chooses someone to lead His people, He looks for a humble man; someone with a true heart of love towards God and a desire to do what the Lord commands.

One by one, each of Jesse’s sons appear before Samuel. Not one of these young men was the right person, according to the Lord’s desire.

1 Samuel 16:11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”

1 Samuel 16:12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”

It was the last, the youngest, and the least among Jesse’s sons—the shepherd, whom the Lord chose. The Lord did not select David by his outward appearance, but by his inner heart and desire to love and please God in all that he said and did.

When we see Jesus, it will not be His physical beauty that will attract us to Him. It will be the inner person who emanates the beauty and Love of God. His eyes will be deep-set and transfixed upon us. His gaze will feel as though He is looking directly into our inner heart. Just when it seems like He will burn a hole right through us, the glimpse of a smile will begin, breaking into radiant Joy.

The delight that Jesus will feel at that first moment when we stand before Him will fill us with a sense of wonder and fulfillment, such-as we have never experienced before in our life. He will understand our heart and all that is within us, as no other person has ever known. We will find Him irresistible and we will never want to leave His presence. I think that just being with Jesus will be the greatest joy of our eternal existence. There will be nothing else in heaven which will captivate us as much as standing before our Lord and listening to Him speak and watching His every move.

Well, that is how I imagine Him…


[1] From Edwards WD, Gabel WJ, Hosmer FE. On the Physical death of Jesus Christ. JAMA 1986;255(11):1455-63. Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, all rights reserved.