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. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Understandably, we focus a lot of attention on the latter verses of this passage which describe Jesus' crucifixion and our salvation bought by it. Much of the foundation of our faith is summarized there. But, the first few verses describe some very important aspects of Jesus as well. Unlike the traditional Gospels, Isaiah included a brief physical description of Jesus within those first couple of verses. Here, Isaiah describes a Creator God that came to earth, not as a handsome and majestic man with whom people were in awe. Rather, it details a humble person without beauty nor majesty; One who has an undesirable appearance. How many of us would do choose this appearance for our Lord (or for ourselves) if we had that option? The challenge of reality seems to cause us to attempt a type of recreation of the Creator (see related post: Making God Fit).
We get an idea of exactly how we desire to see Jesus merely by looking at the movie portrayals of him. Those images seem to reflect the misguided importance we place on physical appearance. Most of the actors portraying Jesus in these movies have physical attributes that are more acceptable to us: well proportioned, handsome, and without any significant physical flaws (separately, but just as relevant, why do we insist that Jesus was light-skinned? As a middle-eastern Jew, he was quite certainly dark complexioned).
Clearly, we feel better when Jesus is portrayed a particular way. But, it is worth asking the question whether we would be as accepting of an uncomely Jesus. What if he was disfigured? Would we hide our faces from him? Maybe our response wouldn't be this apparent. But, is it any wonder that our misplaced emphasis on physical beauty costs us so much (personally, psychologically, monetarily, ethically, societally) when God himself shows us the way by placing the emphasis elsewhere?