Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.( Isaiah 53:1-3)
The true Church is the creation of Jesus. He said “I will build my church…”. We are called out of this world to follow Jesus and to be like Jesus. We can never duplicate the work of Calvary, for the church doesn’t save the world, or die for the sins of the world, but we are called to be in this world as He (Jesus) is.
For example, the church is very much in the same character as Isaiah’s decryption of the Messiah to come.
She is as a Tender root out of dry ground.
In my commentary on Isaiah 53, I wrote earlier of the Messiah, based on the prophetic passage,
For He grew up before Him as a tender plant– The servant’s development was in lowliness and obscurity. Slowly and quietly, without fanfare,He lives before God, and among an enslaved and humiliated nation. He is born in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth, literally “Shootsville”.
A tender plant is a frail shoot, a “sucker” coming out of a trunk or branch, merely a twig that normally would be pruned.
By contrast, Isaiah had earlier predicted that the Messiah would be as a vigorous shoot out of the stump of the felled house of Jesse, and would become an “Ensign” for all to see and seek God thereby,
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”(Isaiah 11:1-2,10)
But that is a prediction of the Messiah as revealed in glory.
Here in Isaiah 53, Israel confesses that all they could see of Jesus of Nazareth, was one as a root out of dry ground, that is He was such an obscure and an unlikely growth, in an unpromising environment.
The true church is like her LORD in that sense. Like a tender shoot, in parched ground, she is an unlikely little source of life in an arid and dead world. A shoot which tyrants and persecutors thought they could simply pluck up and crush, but against all odds, she springs forth, “wherever two or more are gathered in my (Jesus) name”.
In the least promising and most adversarial conditions on earth, such as Saudi Arabia, mark my words, there are small pockets of people perhaps huddled in basements, passing on bread and uttering the ancient pelage, “This is my body, broken for you, take and eat in remembrance of me”.
He has no form or comeliness, there is no beauty that we should desire Him…
The final confession of the nation of Israel will acknowledge that there was nothing in Jesus, of the seeming greatness, charisma , power and beauty that they had expected to see in the Messiah. Jews were looking for something else, The same is true for all men. It is only possible to see the beauty hidden in Jesus the Messiah, when one is allowed to see the desperate need for salvation from sin and it’s power and consequences.
The church also is not outwardly glorious, as far as from a worldly evaluation. Her glory is hidden from the Wise of this age and from those who are perishing. They cannot see what is in these little persecuted and harassed pockets of people everywhere in the world, gathering around the scripture , praying for each other, and taking the ritual meal, of Bread and Wine.
There is no beauty in the church that would appeal to the tastes of this jaded Age.
Of course there are many in the false church who have sought to remedy this lack of outward charisma and relevance, putting up mega churches with highly sophisticated and choreographed “services”, featuring modern music styles, plays and skits, professional level musicianship, and they have even darkened sanctuaries to look like “clubs”.
The Doctrine too has been altered and refashioned to appeal to the “felt needs” of this backslidden and decadent age. In the process of “dolling up the church” to “reach the world” they have sadly lost the vision of God and have become the world.
The church was never meant to appeal to the jaded ages, nor to try to compete with the entertainments of Sodom and Babel. She has no (worldly) beauty that they should desire her. It took a Revelation from God for me to even see the church, I had no idea that it existed. I was used to Grandeur, pomp, holy uniforms, statures, bells the ethereal atmosphere, incense and much “Holy Art” employed to the service of piety and devotion.
I walked into a little unadorned Pentecostal Church in 1978, and I saw it! At first I thought it was phony or deficient, for there were no official vestments, stain glassed windows, or incense. But when I saw the little flock, worshipping Jesus with homely Pentecostal hymns singing about the blood of Jesus,(The Blood of Jesus?)and “Old redemption Story”, I knew soon enough I was experiencing something otherworldly and real.
I was once asked to preach as a young minister at an inner city church. The church was situated in one of the worst, most run down neighborhoods in town. I pulled up in front of an old ramshackle house with loose shingles and aged and decomposing siding. But as I walked into the door, I stepped into the light of a brilliant chandelier, gleaming freshly painted walls, laughter and singing, the love and warmth of the little congregation and the beautiful assurance of the Holy Spirit that I was home.
How many people passed by that old shack every day, having no idea what goes on in there? Do they have any idea of the countless joys and breakthroughs which have occurred there in service after service? Do they even realize that that was the location of miracles?
Who would be drawn to go there, other than by the Spirit? Such is the church, not much to look at or commend herself to this fallen World, but hidden within her is the treasure, the hidden Wisdom is expounded by her constantly and her people partake of the very “Powers of the Age to come” . Who Knew it?