By Femi Aribisala
Jesus had to be an ugly man; that his beauty may be exclusively divine.
In the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord. However, everything he saw was the antithesis of what is regularly proclaimed in the churches. Everything he saw was the complete opposite of what is esteemed in the world. What Isaiah saw was remarkably different from what obtains in Nigeria.
Isaiah turned to God in consternation: “Surely, this is not what you want me to tell the people. Nobody will believe this report.” (Isaiah 53:1). Who indeed believes the report that Jesus, the Messiah, lacks the vainglories of this world?
But we need to believe the report of Isaiah if we are to embrace the peculiar glories of the kingdom of God. God said to Isaiah: “Tell my people to prepare the way of the Lord.” In order to do that, we must have a radically new mindset. Every valley in our lives must be exalted; every mountain and hill must be brought low; the crooked places must be made straight and the rough places smooth; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. (Isaiah 40:4-5).
If we would like to know the ways of the Lord, we must be prepared to ignore virtually all the values we have learnt from the world. Jesus says; “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15). Does that mean my university degree is an abomination to God? Yes, indeed! Does it mean my expensive yacht is an abomination? Yes, indeed! Does it mean my mansion in Banana Island is an abomination? Yes, indeed!
Think of anything the world esteems; from the biggest church building in the world in Otta, Nigeria no less; to our very own 49th most influential man in the world according to Newsweek magazine. According to Jesus, God not only disregards such accolades, he absolutely hates them. They are abomination in his eyes. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The ways of God are diametrically opposite to the ways of men. Christians need to understand this once and for all. If men think something is black, God is going to consider it to be white. If men think something is good, God is likely to consider it to be bad. If men think something is beautiful, God is likely to consider it to be ugly.
Think of a man who comes from a very good home and has a very good background. His parents are socialites and he is born into inherited wealth. Know one thing for sure; God is less than impressed with him. That is why Jesus was born in a manger and of very poor parentage. Jesus’ parents were so poor they could not afford to offer a lamb as sacrifice for a male child that opened the womb, according to the law. So they offered the poor man’s substitute: a pair of turtledoves. (Leviticus 12:8).
Think of a man who was born in one of our great metropolis: the city of Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Kano or Jos. One thing is for certain: God is less than impressed. That is why Jesus was born in a nondescript place like Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2). Jesus grew up in obscurity. He lived not in a major city like Jerusalem, but in Nazareth; a town not even on the map. Therefore, someone asked disparagingly: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
Deceitfulness of riches
Think of a man with companies at home and abroad. He has houses in every state capital and in choice locations all over the world. He has a fleet of cars and his own jet-planes. My sister, is that not the kind of husband you would like? Know this for sure: God is less than impressed. The Lord says: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey.’” (Matthew 21:5). Daughter of Zion, Jesus was not husband-material. He did not drive around in a Mercedes-Jeep, but on a donkey. He did not even build his own house. Instead, he said: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20).
Think of a woman of great and dazzling beauty. Our very own Agbani Darego easily comes to mind. She blazed the trail as Nigeria’s first Miss World; for a season the acclaimed most beautiful woman in the world. But if we were to seek God’s opinion, he would consider her beauty to be ugly. That is why Jesus had to be an ugly man; that his beauty may be exclusively divine. Isaiah says Jesus was ugly: “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2).
However, because Jesus was ugly according to the values of this world, he was handsome according to the values of the kingdom of God. The beauty of the Lord is the beauty of holiness. (2 Chronicles 20:21). His beauty is the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit that is of great price in the eyes of the Lord. (1 Peter 3:4).
Think of a man with all the educational qualifications you can imagine. He may be our very own Chike Obi; or our highfalutin Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka. Know this for certain, God is not impressed with him at all. That is why Jesus did not go to school. He did not go to university. He did not have a doctorate. He was not a Professor Emeritus. He did not even go to the local theological seminary. Nevertheless, he had wisdom from on high: “And the Jews marveled, saying, ‘How does this Man know letters, having never studied?’” (John 7:15).
Every advantage in the world is a disadvantage in the kingdom of God; and every disadvantage is an advantage. Therefore, in the kingdom, the way up is down. In order to enter, we must be born again. (John 3:3-5). In order to see, we have to be blind. (John 9:39). In order to be full, we have to hunger. (Luke 6:21). In order to gain, we have to lose. (Matthew 13:44-46). In order to be rich, we have to be poor. (1 Samuel 2:7). In order to be strong, we have to be weak. (Judges 7:2-7). In order to be masters, we have to be slaves. (Matthew 20:25-28). The elder must serve the younger. (Genesis 25:23).
In order to laugh, we have to weep. (Luke 6:21). In order to enter into glory, we have to endure suffering. (Luke 24:25-26). In order to be healed, we have to be sick. (Luke 5:31). In order to live, we have to die. (John 12:24). In order to save our life, we have to lose it. (Matthew 16:25). In order to be first, we have to be last. (Matthew 19:30).
These are the kingdom dynamics presented in the person and doctrine of Jesus.