“He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to him.” As I was reflecting on this phrase this morning and contemplating the life and death of Jesus on this most holy of days, Good Friday, I began to think about Abraham Lincoln, of all people. You see, in his ascendancy to the presidency and in his time in office Lincoln was routinely caricatured in political cartoons as an ape or baboon. Memoirs of people who had seen the president often commented on how extremely normal and homely he appeared. In fact, Lincoln was quite gangly; he was tall with very long arms and legs. Indeed, he did look something like an oddity. Yet, when Lincoln spoke, people listened and were amazed at his intelligence, ability to connect with people, and his grasp of political philosophy.
Sometimes I wonder if our Lord was actually physically here on earth today if most people would even remotely recognize him. Perhaps Jesus would be ridiculed and despised, just like he was all those centuries ago. I think it is safe to say that he would not make it to the cover of GQ, or make commercials selling underwear. Instead, Jesus came as a humble servant. He suffered throughout his life, endured a horrible death by torture, and secured for us deliverance from the power of sin. God has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Most people have forgotten that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday in 1865. Just as the press did not miss a beat to castigate Lincoln while he was alive, they quickly recognized the parallels between him and Christ in their respective deaths. But while Lincoln was clearly identified with the American people in their baptism of blood with the Civil War, his was not a salvific death. Only Jesus, in his singular suffering, died as a substitute for us. Perhaps Jesus had no outward beauty, but his inward beauty has not only drawn me to him, but saved me from an empty life of sin. Praise be to God!
Lord Jesus, you were the suffering servant who has pioneered salvation for me. Thank you for your sacrifice, and I give eternal praise and gratitude for your willingness to endure the cross. My heart and life is yours; use it as you see fit. Amen.