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Appearance Can Be Deceiving

Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-3

Rev. John F. Wurst

Lent midweek
The Lutheran Church of Christ the King  
Duluth, Minnesota

Play MP3 of this sermon

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 

"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)

Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-3

Lent 2

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Face it: all of you have seen people whom you have regarded as ugly. Perhaps you can think of a specific time when you saw someone who repulsed you. Perhaps you may react critically to another person who overweight, unkempt, dirty, poor, handicapped, or is disfigured for life.

The type of people you regard as ugly say much about yourselves. Often, you dislike people who remind you of your own faults. Perhaps if you get irritated by a man who has thick hair, maybe your irritation stems from the fact that your hair is thinning or gone. If you are struggling with a weight problem, you might disassociate yourself from people with the same problem. If an unkempt person repulses you, you might have OCD about cleanliness and care too much about your own image. If you despise the poor, perhaps it is because of your own wealth that made you so arrogant. If you turn your face away from the handicapped, pretending not to see them, perhaps you dread the thought that someday that might be you in the wheelchair. If you ignore the disfigured, it may be because they remind you of the unpredictability of accidents and one day you might suffer the same type of tragedy.

If you are honest with yourselves when you look in the mirror, you must admit that you all have your own faults. None of you is wholly attractive. Even movie stars have their good sides and their bad sides, and many of the stars admired by the public are obsessed with their imperfections (which they know all too well).

The root cause of your problems is sin. The original sin you each inherited from Adam and Eve inevitably leads to a decline in your appearance as you age. But far more important than your external appearance is your spiritual condition: by nature, each of you, without Christ, is UGLY to God because of your sin. God's law is the mirror that reveals your faults and ugliness. Were it not for the Christ, God would abhor you and banish you from His presence forever.

Appearances can be deceiving. If anyone in the history of the world should have been dazzlingly handsome, you expect that person to be Jesus, the Son of God, the Man who is God incarnate - sinless and perfect in every way. Yet, what does the prophet Isaiah say about Him?

Many were appalled at You,

for His appearance was disfigured from that of a man,

and His form from the sons of men ...

He had no attractiveness or majesty.

We saw Him, and He had no appearance

that we should desire Him.

He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of pains familiar with sickness.

Like one from whom men hide their faces,

He was despised, and we did not regard Him.

(Isaiah 52:14; 53:2c-3)

You may imagine that Jesus was impressively handsome, dignified, and majestic - a perfect physical specimen. Hollywood depicts Jesus this way in many of their movies. Yet, the New Testament never gives a physical description of Jesus. You never read about how tall He was or what the color of His was. Vain human beings, like you, judge by such superficial criteria and may even dismiss Jesus as unexceptional.

Whatever His appearance, the Gospels tell you that there were many times in the life of Jesus when this Scripture was fulfilled: Christ was spurned and rejected. People turned away from Him. They averted their eyes from Him. They closed their ears to His preaching.

Throughout this Lententide, be mindful of the events that will transpire during Holy Week. Isaiah's description of the Suffering Servant's appearance finds literal fulfillment in the physical violence Jesus suffered during His passion. Jesus was beaten, scourged, and crucified. He was an abhorrent sight in the ancient world, and it would be no less so today should you visibly see Jesus that way. Jesus was ugly in the eyes of men: His hands and feet pierced with iron nails. His thorn-encircled brow, a jagged gash in His side from a soldier's spear. Who would want to fix their gaze upon such a sight?

As the prophet Isaiah foretold, many would have been appaled at Jesus, for His appearance was disfigured beyond that of a normal man, and His form was marred beyond human likeness. Jesus seemed to have no beauty or majesty to attract you to Him, nothing in His appearance that you should desire Him.

Now, think about WHY Jesus became so UGLY and your view of Him changes. The ugliness of your sins was placed upon Him. Jesus disfigurement, wounds, and scars were all inflicted by your sins. Jesus was marred because He took your trespasses unto Himself. Jesus suffered the scorn and derision you feel toward others and what others direct at you. Most of all, Jesus suffered the Father's abhorrence at the sins of all humanity. This is objective justification. Jesus stood in the place of every man, woman, and child and bore the sins of the world thereby removing them from all humanity.

For this reason, Christendom acclaims Jesus as their "beautiful Savior." His visage is majestic beyond compare and His ugly wounds have earned everlasting life FOR YOU! The Suffering Servant who was despised and rejected by men will receive all who believe on His Name. Jesus' promise to you is sure when He said, "Whoever comes to Me I will in no wise cast out." No sinner is too ugly for Jesus that believes in Him.

God sees through appearances. When God looks at you, His Baptized Child, He sees you robed in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. He sees you adorned with the splendor of Jesus' holiness. Because of Jesus, you will stand and worship the Father and the Son by grace alone.

Remember, next time you look despairingly upon someone who is unattractive, overweight, disfigured, handicapped, or disadvantaged, Jesus died for their sins too.

In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

+ SDG +

(C) Rev. John F. Wurst

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