Recently, I was talking with a friend who worked with the ministry called Young Life. It is an organization that focuses on young people. Its founder was Jim Rayburn. My friend told me that Rayburn often began his messages to teenagers with a statement that would get their attention. He would say, “Jesus Christ is the most attractive Person that has ever lived.”
My guess is that the teenagers listening to those opening words were surprised. Folks that age are often worried about appearance, and they had never heard that before. They probably saw Him as a religious figure from the past, and not particularly “cool.” (OK, that’s a term we used when I was young. Maybe young people in Rayburn’s day didn’t.) He was not Somebody they would think of as attractive.
But even older people would have wondered what Rayburn meant. There is nothing in the NT to indicate that Jesus was a particularly handsome Man. More importantly, many of us are familiar with what the prophet Isaiah had to say about Him:
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him (Isa 53:2, emphasis added).
Of course, Rayburn had another view of what being attractive meant. He was not referring to the Lord’s clear skin, silky hair, or beautiful eyes.
Recently, I read a book by Ian McFarland about the Person of Christ. It is called The Word Made Flesh: A Theology of the Incarnation. McFarland’s book discusses how Jesus is fully God and fully Man and how the early church struggled with how to describe what this meant. About 400 years after the Lord’s resurrection, it was codified at the Council of Chalcedon. McFarland deals with what the orthodox doctrine of the Person of Christ means.
McFarland suggests that many Christians today do not understand what the church said at Chalcedon. We say things that are heretical without realizing it. For example, we mix the two natures of Christ when we say that He could walk on water and raise the dead because He was God. Instead, we should see such acts as done by the human Jesus Christ. We cannot see God (John 1:18), so when we see Jesus’ actions, we are not seeing God, we are seeing the Man.
I must admit that there are many things in the book that I don’t understand. When the author discusses some things, he dives into philosophical concepts and certain disputes in the early church of which I am not even aware. I don’t understand the background or concepts. It is clear that McFarland has a much higher IQ than I do. I wonder how many heretical things I have said about the Lord without knowing it.
But one thing I do know: Jesus Christ is greater than I will ever be able to comprehend. Sure, I can say He is fully God and fully Man, one Person forever. But such words are a feeble attempt to describe Him. Who can look at Him on the pages of the NT and think they have Him figured out? He is simply too great. If I could say it in another way—He is simply too beautiful. Maybe that is what Rayburn meant.
When unbelievers look at Him, they see the One who gives them eternal life as a gift they can never lose if they believe in Him for it. How beautiful is that? The believer looks at Him and can understand that we want to be more like Him (2 Cor 3:18). If we are wise, we see that there is a beauty about Him that is attractive beyond words. We want to look like Him. The more we look at Him on the pages of Scripture, the more we can hope for the day when we actually see Him face to face.
Surely this is what Rayburn meant. Our Savior is so great that we cannot fully understand just how great He is. We never will. Even so, for all eternity we will agree—He is the most attractive Person who ever lived. But I think something else can be said. He will become more and more attractive to us as eternity rolls on.