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The beauty of Jesus

By Tom Ragsdell

Mankind has always longed for beauty and found inspiration in its radiance. We have walked along sandy beaches to admire sunsets and enjoy the cool breezes of ocean winds. We have sought out hidden treasures of beauty in forests, streams and mountains. We appreciate beauty and desire to fill our lives with it.

Followers of Christ discover in Him the fullest expressions of beauty. After all, not only did He create all of the natural beauty that inspires us, but He lived a truly beautiful life on earth. His humility, compassion and teachings powerfully transform every life they touch.

The humility of Jesus

Much of the ugliness in our world stems from the “pride of life” and the lust for power and control over others (1 John 2:15-17). Indeed, much of life’s ugliness could be eliminated if people followed the example of Jesus’ humility. He taught His disciples a different path to significance, one of service to one another rather than seeking to be served (John 13:13-17).

Philippians 2 describes the “vision statement” of Jesus’ life. Jesus “being in very nature God” (verse 6, NIV), took on the form of a servant and became a man. John chooses the humility of Jesus as a decisive theme in his Gospel. Even as he begins, he presents Jesus as the Word of God and Creator of all things who has descended heavenly stairs and pitched His tent among a much-loved humanity (John 1:1,14). The One who had every right to exercise His authority and position chose instead to humble himself and stoop to our level. In His humility, He revealed to us the beauty and glory of God’s presence.

The compassion of Jesus

Jesus’ beauty is seen in His love and compassion offered in the circumstances of life. John’s Gospel describes Jesus in compassionate terms. Jesus is the perfect reflection of God’s glory. He is the Creator come down to humanity (John 1:14), and much more. He is a friend attending some unknown’s wedding (John 2). He is a teacher willing to give His private time for Nicodemus (John 3). For the Samaritan woman at the well, He is perhaps the only rabbi who would engage her in compassionate conversation (John 4). Even after a long day of teaching Jesus remained ready to meet the needs of those who followed Him, even as the disciples prepared to send them away (John 6).

Yes, Jesus loved people — women, children and anyone else marginalized by the injustices of society. Jesus himself expressed this love, saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). His life would fulfill those words.

Jesus often worked His miracles because He was “moved with compassion” for the person in need. The Bible tells us that God is love. Jesus showed us God’s face in His compassionate action.

The message of Jesus

Jesus’ message speaks of His beauty. Some, having never read or seriously investigated the teachings of Jesus, take for granted their truly supernatural and timeless qualities. Take for example the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) or the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Golden Rule, “Do to others what you would have them do to you,” for example, is full of power and beauty. It is as applicable in a kindergarten as it is among adults on the job. All of life’s ugliness and brokenness could be removed if this one rule were consistently followed.

Much of what Jesus teaches is quite startling and we are often unprepared to consistently apply such wisdom without additional spiritual strength. What was the heart of Jesus’ message? He taught us to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40), and He reassured us that God loves us.

Jesus was a master teacher. He could uncover the smallest crack in a person’s argument or lifestyle. Jesus never taught truth to condemn; He taught to deliver us from our brokenness, and protect us from future disaster. He taught to invite people to receive of His spiritual beauty.

The claims of Jesus

Jesus’ primary claim was of His own divine identity, which He consistently asserted throughout His public campaign. He prophesied His own death and resurrection (John 2:19) and considered the cross the apex of His life (John 12:23-33). He confidently described himself as God’s one and only Son (John 3:18), asserting that the Father had sent Him (John 7:16). He said that the Father and Son work together (John 5:17) and that the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father (John 10:38).

Jesus consistently offered to His followers hope for the present and the promise of eternity. Utilizing phrases such as “living water” (John 4:10), “bread of life” (John 6:48), “light of the world” (John 8:12), “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), or the “true vine” (John 15:1), Jesus masterfully described himself as the source of all true spiritual life. He spoke of heaven and promised to prepare a place for those who place their trust in Him as Savior (John 14:1-4).

Jesus continually asserted that faith in His identity as the Son of God was the key to unlocking the promises and privileges of the Kingdom. One of the most poignant passages on faith is John 11:25,26: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ” Jesus is still asking this question today.

Beauty in belief

Truly, Jesus is beautiful; but do you believe His teachings and claims? Do you believe in the beauty of Jesus?

In all of our efforts to remove the distasteful elements from our lives and communities, something is missing without the beauty of Jesus. What men and women really need is the moral and spiritual beauty of Jesus. We seek a beauty that transcends the natural order. Nature can guide us, but not satisfy us. What we desire is a beauty that flows from the Creator himself. We desire the beauty of Jesus.

Tom Ragsdell and his wife, Jeni, are Assemblies of God missionaries in Ukraine and the CIS.

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