While most people agree that Jesus, in His human form, had a serene and attractive countenance, a few insist that He had the looks of an average person (by human standards). They quote Isaiah 53:2 which says:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

One would like to believe that Isaiah was in fact, foreseeing the countenance of Jesus while the Lord was going through the agony of trial and passion. My question is : are there any interpretations of the said prophecy of Isaiah, brought forth or authenticated by the Catholic Church ?

  • "Most people agree," but they might be wrong, for Isaiah 53:3 tells us that He was "a man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief." His normal attitude was that of grief and compassion for the lost and suffering. How do you have joy while walking in the midst of suffering humanity all around you? Serene, sure; but marked with sorrow too. – Steve Jan 12 '16 at 6:16
  • Let us agree to disagree. Jesus also had a profound sense of humor, as is evident from many of His deeds and words. He must have smiled frequently and also made others smile. – Kadalikatt Joseph Sibichan Jan 12 '16 at 7:56
  • Josep Sibichan I am going by what's plainly stated in the Word, you are going by surmise. Do you know the difference? – Steve Jan 12 '16 at 13:19
  • I do. But I am trying to read between the lines. – Kadalikatt Joseph Sibichan Jan 12 '16 at 16:28

What "most people agree" is completely irrelevant. What matters is what the Word of God tells us, as read through the eyes of the Patristic Church.

Isaiah describes a man who was not compelling by force of "great looks" (like Saul) but because He was obviously of God (like David). Since Jesus was (and is) the Son of God, God the Son, Second Person of he Holy Trinity, His aspect would have been compelling whatever His physical appearance was like.

The closest approximation we have of what the Lord looked like in life is the original Pantocrator icon, which is taken from the Divine Image on the Shroud of Turin.

Hope this helps!

in Christ,

Fr. Jim Rosselli St. Joseph of Arimathea Orthodox Church La Porte, IN

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  • My understanding is that the Edessa image is thought to be the model for pictures of Christ. The Edessa image is believed by many to be the same cloth as the Shroud of Turin, but that is not certain. If an artist claimed to have seen the Edessa image and used it directly, that would be very interesting. It appears many copied each other, and the fact that they all look like the Edessa image is suggestive. – Bit Chaser Mar 22 '17 at 1:23

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