Beyond Recognition

We’ve all watched movies about Machiaḥ. We’ve all seen paintings depicting images of Machiaḥ. The actors and images seldom look Jewish and are always classically handsome. It’s all so subtle and pervasive that we don’t realize how these images affect the way we picture Yeshua – and how we relate to Him.

Think of the portrayals of Yeshua by Jeffrey Hunter (King of Kings, 1961), Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, 2004), and Diogo Morgado (Son of G-d, 2014). They are handsome; they have screen presence. Greco-Roman influences on Western culture pre-condition us to see Him as authoritative and virtuous, practically floating a few inches off the ground in divine righteousness.

We trust pretty people, yet scripture actually cautions us about those who are charming and beautiful. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 (CJB) we are warned, “. . . the Adversary himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Beauty isn’t truth, no matter what John Keats penned in “Ode to a Grecian Urn.”

Saul, our first king, was described as tall and handsome. This is a giant red flag from a Judaic perspective, a signal that things won’t turn out well. When Sh’mu’el HaNavi considers the sons of Yishai, HaShem reminds him, “Don’t pay attention to how he looks or how tall he is . . . Adonai doesn’t see the way humans see – humans look at the outward appearance, but Adonai looks at the heart.” 1 Sh’mu’el 16:7 (CJB)

According to Scripture prophecies, Yeshua was not attractive. In Yesha’yahu 53:2 we read, “He was not well-formed or especially handsome; we saw him, but his appearance did not attract us.” (CJB) Yeshua’s appearance was so ordinary and commonplace that Judas had to identify him for arrest.

Okay, so here’s an exercise. Instead of the above-referenced actors, imagine Yeshua being portrayed by Jewish celebrities such as Woody Allen, or Rick Moranis, or Marty Feldman, or even Rodney Dangerfield. For just a few minutes, “hear” Jackie Mason’s gravelly voice speaking the Sermon on the Mount. It’s disconcerting but pivotal.

We truly see Yeshua only after we smash our images of Him. When we know Yeshua by His teachings, His miracles, His life, our relationship with Him transcends to the amazing.