Why was Jesus so unimpressive?
Today, on “Baptism of our LORD Sunday,” I was privileged to bring God’s Word to God’s people. According to the Worship Sourcebook :
“The baptism of Jesus is one of the most theologically profound events in the gospel narratives. When the Father spoke, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17), the divine sonship of Christ was announced in a vivid, dramatic way. The event gives us a picture of the Trinity, with the Father’s gift of the Spirit to the Son.”
– The Worship Sourcebook (2nd Edition), p. 525.
At our children’s message time, I attempted to encourage our little ones, that when they put their trust in JESUS, when they listen to Him, (as God suggested/commanded), God rips open the heavens and yells down: “This my son — this is my daughter, in him — in her, I am well pleased.”
Those who are students of the bible, know that God’s actual voice doesn’t occur very often in Scripture. It’s pretty significant and very dramatic when that happens. God not only wanted His one and only beloved Son to know He was pleased with him, He wanted us to know that in order for HIM to be pleased with us, we had better listen to the one who pleases HIM.
It’s a really big deal that every one should follow Jesus and put their trust in Him. Eternal life is at stake.
For this Baptism of our LORD Sunday, I chose to preach on John’s version of the baptism from John 1:29-34:
John Testifies About Jesus
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’
31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
– The New International Version, John 1: 29-34
What is significant about this version from John is the fact that John the Baptist would have completely missed Jesus if God hadn’t pointed him out supernaturally. The significance being, not only do we need special revelation from God to know Jesus, but also the fact that Jesus was so ordinary and unimpressive.
Yes, I know, that we now know that the suffering, unimpressive servant of Isaiah 53 was in fact Jesus Christ.
“He [that is, the LORD’s servant] had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
It’s a very well known, famous if you will, story to us now, but without the gift of Special Revelation, we would missed Jesus just like John almost did.
The gospel writer John has also reminded us in his first chapter that the world was made through him, but when he, that is Jesus, was in the world, it didn’t even recognize him.
So the question we wrestled with was this: Why so unimpressive? Why so ordinary?
The answer is of course has to do with our awesome God and His wonderful plot twists. But before we look at God’s Master Plan and production, let’s compare it to Hollywood. In Hollywood, the so-called masterclass of producers, writers, and directors craft wonderful, interesting stories to entertain us and impress us. Of course, these stories come to life due to the stellar nominees and guests. The Stars. The Hollywood Stars. You know, the ones we worship — I mean –the ones we watch.
Some even spend days in tents just for a chance to get a glimpse of these stars. Who knows? Maybe they might even get an autograph or a selfie. Could you imagine coming home from an award show and showing your family and friends just how close you got to a star? Surely, they would be impressed.
Now let’s get back to the Master Himself, the ONE who offers Masterclasses in creativity, and redemption, and in making all things new, right and beautiful again. But how did He do it?
He came down and tented with us. That was one of God’s amazing and surprising plot twists.
Jesus came as an ordinary, unimpressive person, so that — he could get close — to us! How crazy it that? How wonderful is that?
Yes, Jesus came to fulfill all prophecy, but JESUS stayed in a tent for 33 years to get close to us. His tent is his human flesh. The big theological word for that is his incarnation. Many Christians know that John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” could be translated “he tented with us.”
So imagine this picture for a second. JESUS is the one in a tent waiting for our arrival. His is God made flesh, waiting for us. He’s waiting for ordinary, unimpressive, worse than that — wicked, rebellious sinners who either want to be worshipped or worship the stars God has created.
But then, as we’re strolling down the red carpet of life, (our sense of entitlement), Jesus springs out the tent he’s been waiting in, comes straight up to us, and turns up his palms to us. He then quotes from Isaiah 49:16:
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
Can you picture God in the flesh, having our own name, our autograph in the palm of His hands. He put it there before the foundation of the world. So when you think of it that way, all those who ARE IN Christ are famous. We’re famous to God again. We are very significant and will even share in the glory of Jesus, His Son, our brother and LORD.
If anyone reading this has any self-esteem issues, remember that image of your autograph, your name engraved in the palms of God. God in the flesh.
If you have never “Listened to God’s Son,” do it today. You’ll be impressed. You’ll have the Holy Spirit descend on you like a dove, and remain on you, never, ever leaving you. The HOLY Spirit will help us listen to the Father, doing His will, just as Jesus did, on our behalf.
Impressive God the Father! Impressive Jesus, my brother and LORD! Impressive Holy Spirit!
Help us to make your name great all over the world.