A young woman prays diligently to have a child. Like faithful Hannah (cf. 1 Sam. 1), she hopes for the day when she welcomes a child into her arms. She’s not alone in this desire. Her husband wants to become a father. He dreams of throwing a football with his son in the backyard and walking his “little princess” down the aisle.
In time, the couple conceives and rejoices at the news of their unborn child! Over the next nine months, the couple turns the man-cave into a proper nursery, prays together for the sake of their unborn child, and sing to her in the womb. (Yes, it’s a girl.) Even though the couple has not yet seen that their daughter has inherited her mother’s chestnut hair, her father’s dimple, and her grandmother’s smile they still love her – dearly. For this couple, love for their daughter does not – and never will – require sight.
In a much greater way, you can love Jesus even though you have not seen him! Peter wrote to the elect:
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
In this instance, Peter was referring to a collection of Christians who lived hundreds of miles away from the region of Judea – the area in which Jesus ministered – three decades after Jesus’ ministry. These people never had the opportunity to physically interact with Jesus; however, these very same people still loved the Lord Jesus. Additionally, none who live today have seen Jesus face to face, but many today do indeed love the Son of God.
The reason for this is because love for Jesus does not require physical sight! In fact, physical sight has absolutely nothing to do with it!
Still, some today have reasoned: “I would have liked to live when he lived, see him as he could be seen, hear his voice, and even touch him to see if he was real. Then, I would believe and love Him.” This is a faulty proposition, because many were indeed afforded those same privileges yet still did not believe and love Him (i.e. the Pharisees, scribes, high priests, Pilate, and many others).
Jesus has required that men be led to Him by faith and not by sight. In fact, those that are looking to be won over to Jesus by the physical charisma of appearance will find this to be impossible. Of Christ, Isaiah prophesied,
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isaiah 53:2-3 ESV).
This prophecy would seem to suggest that the coming Messiah would lack the obvious physical characteristics which would make him classically attractive to the eye.
Rather, it was prophesied that the Christ would have such an appearance which would cause them to turn away and hide their faces from him. This does not mean that Jesus was physically ugly or deformed, but this likely refers to the physically-altering events of his ministry – primarily his crucifixion and the events quickly preceding it. Again, Isaiah prophesied:
Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you– his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—(Isaiah 52:13-14).
As bloodied, beaten, and bruised as Jesus must have been in the agony of his crucifixion, he was beautiful as ever. For, his great love for us gloriously was displayed from the cross (Rom. 5:6-10). This – God’s holiness and supreme love displayed by Jesus – is what attracts us to Him. Jesus said,
‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die (John 12:33).
He has first loved us which has made it possible for us to love him (1 Jn. 4:19). We love him even though we have never seen him! Today, we look to Jesus by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 12:2). In doing such, we now see the high, lifted up, exalted Jesus in heaven (Php. 2:8-9; Heb. 1:1-3). There is coming a day when we see his face (Rev. 22:4; Matt. 5:8). Then, throughout all of eternity, we will abound in his love for us and our love for Him.