This picture is what we have been taught, but it may have been much different than this
picture portrays during Christ’s life and after the crucifixion.
There has been something on my mind for many years that I would like to share. I read a true story telling about an old house that had caught fire and a little boy was trapped on the second floor and the flames were closing in. There was a steel pipe that ran vertically up the tottering hot wall that was near the boys window. William Dixon climbed up that steel pipe and rescued the boy seconds before the house erupted into flames and the wall that the pipe was fastened to collapsed. However, Dixon’s hand that clung to the pipe was terribly burned and disfigured. His hand was a horrid sight but the boy often would climb onto the man’s lap and caress the scared hand. The hand was not ugly to the boy because he realized that the scars on that deformed hand was a lovely sacrifice for his life.
This next week will be Easter and every year my thoughts return to this story and those scars. Then my thoughts turn to Jesus and his scars.
Consider a new thought about Easter. All of our lives we have been brought up seeing Jesus crucified on the cross. As a boy we had the crucifix hanging in the front of the church sanctuary. I looked at that crucifix for many hours, but as I grew older and started to read Scripture, questions began to form in my mind about that scene.
As I read the Gospels I realized how brutal the crucifixion was. Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion Of The Christ, revealed much of that brutality. Gibson was criticized for the bloodiness of the crucifixion but he said he didn’t even portray it as bad as it actually was. How different the scenes in Gibson’s movie compared to that crucifix that used to intrigue me so much in church. That crucifix had a neat and tidy Savior. The crown of thorns looked as if they had been placed on his head, not beaten on. There were a few drops of blood from the brow of Jesus and his face; with closed eyes, looking serene, even peaceful. The nails were in the feet and hands and his side was pierced but little else to reveal the agony of that awful day and the terrible ugliness of my sin that he willingly went to that cross to take away.
Just How Bad Was It?
Before Jesus was crucified he was flogged. The flogging was enough to kill a man and it left Jesus with deep gashes, cuts, puncture wounds and abrasions all over his body. Then they “placed” a twisted crown of thorns on his head. They took a staff and struck him on the head “again and again,” it repeats twice in the Scripture account. They beat him on the head, pounding the thorns deeper and deeper. They also called out a whole company of soldiers and struck him on the face “again and again.” These soldiers had large rings on their fingers that cut and bruised. They were not slapping, they were using their fists and they were punching. Jesus’ face was swollen bleeding and unrecognizable. They pulled his beard out by the roots. It was heinous, repulsive and extremely painful. It was all of Satan’s and man’s worst aimed at maiming and hurting God’s best – God’s Son.
These were hardened angry Roman soldiers. The Jews hated the Romans and the Romans hated the Jews, but this day they both have the same goal and are one hundred percent united and totally in agreement. They want to hurt Jesus and they want to kill him with the most possible pain imaginable.
Isaiah 52:14 says, “Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.”
Isaiah chapters 52 and 53 were written 700 years before Jesus was even born and yet it is as though the writer was right there on the scene, it was so accurate in its description of Jesus as the Suffering Servant. Go back 1000 years before Jesus’ birth, when Rome was just a few huts on the Tiber river, and read Psalm 22 and it will give you a detailed description of the crucifixion, when as yet the Romans hadn’t even thought of a torture so cruel. “…they have pierced my hands and my feet,” recorded there is Psalms and all the details of crucifixion.
I believe that Jesus was beaten and disfigured and marred beyond human likeness just like Isaiah states.
Does A Hero Have To Be Pretty?
It seems so important to us, in our culture to have a “pretty” or “handsome” Jesus – you know, like a movie star. Have you ever seen an ugly Jesus? Sounds like a sacrilege doesn’t it? If a man is running for office he is almost a shoo-in if he is handsome, tall, and has swagger. Our history has proved that he doesn’t have to know much, he just has to have that “Hollywood” characteristic. He has to stand erect and speak with authority, even if in our hearts we know he can’t deliver all he promises. He has to have charisma, charm, and be smooth and likable.
Movies about Jesus wouldn’t be attractive to any audience at any time in history, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not.”
“Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4
I’m not sure Jesus was attractive during his life of thirty three years, let alone between the crucifixion and resurrection. We know he was poor and was from a region not well thought of in Israel. But as we read the words above in Isaiah, ” despised, rejected by men, man of sorrows, familiar with suffering, one whom men hide their faces, not esteemed, smitten, afflicted” – could this be our Jesus that “by his stripes we are healed”? Perhaps there was more meaning to Jesus’ quote, “Physician, heal yourself” than we thought. Perhaps Jesus was “afflicted” with the same things we are? Consider:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who had gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Just as Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, had been stripped naked with the other prisoners in the death camps in World War II, and were being herded past German guards who were jeering at them, they were humiliated and ashamed. But Corrie remembered a verse from the Bible and she called out to her sister, “Betsie, Jesus was naked on the cross.” Peace flooded over them knowing their Savior shared this same treatment and he was there with them in their suffering.
Have you been rejected, shamed, disgraced? Are you ill and it goes on and on? Do people shun you because you don’t fit in? Jesus understands. He knows you’re hurting, He’s been there! May I get more personal? Do you feel unattractive or ugly (at least in your own eyes), deformed, not socially acceptable?
I am assuming that Jesus may have been too, but even if he wasn’t, he still knows exactly how you feel and he weeps with you.
I Have A Few Questions
Pretty much everything I have mentioned you have already thought about or perhaps considered, but I haven’t even started to share what I started out to do. Here goes:
After the crucifixion, but before Jesus ascended into heaven, he appeared many times to many people. I have these questions –
- Matthew 28:16 records, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him they worshipped Him; but some doubted.” Why did they doubt?
- Luke 24:36-39 and John 20, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see;..” Why didn’t Jesus say, “Look at my face?” but instead he showed them his hands and feet to look at to remove doubt.
- In John 20, Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus at first but realized it was him by the sound of his voice. Her eyes may have been blurred by tears but usually we can identity a person even through tears.
- In John 20, records doubting Thomas. Jesus appeared behind locked doors and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Why didn’t Thomas recognize Jesus’ face?
- In John 20, Jesus did many other miraculous signs in their presence so we may believe. Why did he have do miraculous signs if Jesus looked the same way as he did before he was crucified?
- Some of the disciples went fishing and Jesus appears on the shore. They came in and Jesus had breakfast prepared for them. Then it says,” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.” John 21:12 Why would this even be an issue if his face or appearance hadn’t changed?
- Acts 1:3 “After his suffering he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days..” He is standing there in front of them – why did he have to give many convincing proofs that he was alive?
May I Assume?
Assuming can get you into a heap of trouble so right from the start I want you to know that from these verses that I am assuming that Jesus’ appearance had changed after the crucifixion. I’m assuming that if he carried scars on his hands, feet and side, he also carried the scars on his face and body.
[For many the Servant of God became an object of horror; many were astonished at Him.] His face and His whole appearance were marred more than any man’s, and His form beyond that of the sons of men – but just as many were astonished at Him, So shall He startle and sprinkle many nations, and kings shall shut their mouths because of Him; for that which has not been told them shall they see, and that which they have not heard shall they consider and understand. Isaiah 52:14-15 Amplified Bible.
After his ascension into heaven it is recorded in Revelation 5:6 “Then I saw the Lamb (Jesus), looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…”
They sang a new song, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Jesus is mentioned in the book of Revelation thirty times as the Lamb – the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.
Jesus’ sacrifice may be even greater than we had previously thought. He loved us so much He allowed Himself to be disfigured, even on His face and body, so we could have our sins forgiven. We know He sits on the right hand of the Father at this very moment interceding for us and He bears on His body the scars proving that He is worthy of our worship.
Perhaps like the story of the burning house and the rescued boy, we too will see the love and sacrifice on the face and body of Jesus so that we could be with God in heaven forever.