“He is altogether lovely”Song 5:16
What is beauty? What makes something beautiful?
Our society tells us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that beauty is relative, and we must categorize persons or things as beautiful based on our own personal preferences. This, however, is not the definition of beauty that we find when we study the Scriptures. There, beauty is a divine attribute, a glorious perfection of our glorious God. Everything in creation that is beautiful is only reflecting (to a very small extent) the infinite beauty of the Creator.
By this definition, our Lord Jesus, as the eternal Son of God now made flesh for us, is uniquely beautiful. What follows here is a short, and at best imperfect, meditation on some facets of the immeasurable, inexpressible, and unfathomable beauty of Jesus Christ.
He is beautiful in His deity
Before all creation Jesus existed as the eternal Word in His Father’s presence (John 1:1–3), one with His Father in radiant glory (John 17:5). There was nothing He was lacking, no inadequacy, no sense of incompleteness (Acts 17:25). There was only pure joy, unending happiness in the eternal life and love of Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus’ words to His Father during His earthly life give us a window into their eternal relationship: “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38); “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29); “You loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). We experience love and joy, albeit in a limited and temporal way, because of our creation in the image of the triune God who eternally overflows with joy and love.
He is beautiful in His creativity
By the eternal Son all things were created (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). Paul says, “…for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Jesus is the source of creation (“from Him”), the agent of creation (“through Him”), and the purpose of creation (“to/for Him”). He fashioned the world through His creative omnipotence at the command of His Father. And what a beautiful world it is! Who among us has not gazed into a star-filled night sky in awe of the complexity of our universe, or watched the brilliant hues of the heavens at sunrise? “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (Heb. 3:4). If this world is beautiful, surely it reflects only dimly the manifold beauty of its magnificent Creator.
He is beautiful in His revelation
Jesus is the perfect word of the Lord who communicates the unknowable and invisible God to us. “No one has ever seen God,” the apostle boldly declares in John 1:18. How can this be? Who appeared to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Who met with Moses in the burning bush and gave the law at Sinai? Who spoke to Israel through the prophets and confirmed His covenant with David? John says, “The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him” (John 1:18). Even before His incarnation, the Son was disclosing the plan and purpose of His Father through His Old Testament appearances. Jesus perfectly reveals God the Father.
He is beautiful in His humanity
The eternal Word condescended to become the incarnate Word (John 1:14). He is God with us (Isa. 7:14). Jesus is human in every area that makes for true humanity. He thinks (Matt. 9:4); He feels (John 11:35); He desires (John 6:38–40). He is flesh and blood and psyche and soul. He knows the relational aspects of humanity, family, and friendships (John 15:13–15). He feels all the sorrow and pain and sufferings of a world broken by the curse of sin (Isa. 53:3). Jesus even knows death experientially (Rev. 1:18). He feels the external effects of sin in the world without ever experiencing any of the internal corruption of sin that affects the rest of humanity. He knows the war against sin, what it’s like to be tempted and to triumph over sin (Heb. 4:15). He is truly human, as we were meant to be, perfect, without the afflictions of sin.
He is beautiful in His character
In Him dwells all the fullness of God in bodily form (Col. 2:9). Each of the divine attributes are perfectly on display in Jesus, whether before or after the incarnation. Every action He undertakes is perfectly loving, perfectly righteous, perfectly gracious, perfectly wise. Think of His compassion toward the afflicted, the oppressed, the outcast, the sinner. Yet He did not hesitate to expose and condemn the hypocrisy of the self-righteous. When we read about the life of our Savior in the Gospels, we are reading inspired witness to a life lived entirely in moral perfection.
He is beautiful for His gospel
Jesus, being perfect in glory, love, and holiness, infinite in His creative power, looked upon His creation in love even as they rebelled against Him. Humanity failed to recognize the beauty of Jesus as the source of life and true happiness and instead sought meaning in the worthless things this world offers as substitutes. Sin is rebellion against God, and it distorts humanity to the core. But God demonstrates His wondrous and beautiful love in that He saw our hopeless condition and came down in the person of His eternal Son (Rom. 5:8). He did not cling to His divine glory but temporarily set aside the full benefits of deity by becoming human and obeying the Father to the point of death (Phil. 2:6–8). Jesus is beautiful in that He has visited His people to act in deliverance on their behalf. Christ died for our sins; He was buried; and He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3–4).
He is beautiful in His sacrifice
The Son of God journeyed from perfection in glory with infinite joy to the horror and grief of the cross. The Creator of all became the man of sorrows whose body was crushed and broken (Isa. 53:3–5). His sacrifice is beautiful not in the gore or the carnage of death itself, but in what His death achieved. He died in my place. He took my punishment. He bore the wrath of God that I deserved. “He was wounded for my transgressions, crushed for my iniquities, the chastening that brought us peace was upon him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). His death is beautiful, not in the violence of the crucifixion of the Son of God, but in what it accomplished for us once and for all. “For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
He is beautiful in His resurrection
Death could not hold Him captive (Acts 2:24). He has been raised to endless and indestructible life (Heb. 7:16). Jesus possesses the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18) — He owns the grave. His resurrection becomes the basis for our hope in the future resurrection of our bodies (1 Cor. 15:20). Jesus loved us all the way from heaven down to death and back up again, that He might bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10).
Jesus is beautiful. He is beautiful as God, as man, as creator, as king, as prophet and priest, as shepherd and Savior, as He who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). May the God of heaven give us the spiritual vision to see the exquisite beauty of Jesus Christ our Lord.