Does “no form nor comeliness” describe Jesus?

Isaiah 53:2 describes the suffering servant as one who “had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor appearance that we should delight in him.” Does this fit the New Testament‘s description of Jesus?

Answer:

According to the Gospels, Jesus was, throughout his entire lifetime, greatly desired by an ever growing multitude of people (Luke 2:40, 46-47). Jesus’ positive attributes are strikingly illustrated in Luke’s summation of his formative years: “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and in physical growth [helikia, cf. Luke 19:3], and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). In this statement, it is asserted that Jesus was wise, tall in stature, and enjoyed popularity even in the years prior to his active ministry. This verse shows that his handsome appearance, charismatic personality, and wisdom attracted many followers.

There are some Christian commentators who say that Isaiah 53:2 refers to the Jewish rejection of Jesus’ message at the time of his death. But, we can assume that outside of Jerusalem his still loyal following was unaware of events in the capital and that even there, besides his secret followers (John 12:42) great multitudes were still loyal (Luke 23:27). On the way to being executed the Gospel of Luke maintains that “there were following him a great multitude of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting him” (Luke 23:27).

Overall, the great majority of Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries in the Land of Israel and the Diaspora never heard of him. Therefore, the Question of large-scale Jewish rejection of Jesus does not yet enter the picture.

Other Christian commentators see Isaiah 53:2 as a reaction to Jesus’ physical state at his crucifixion. According to the Gospel of Luke, this notion is without justification. Luke writes that those who followed Jesus to his execution were not turned away by his supposed haggard appearance (Luke 23:27).

Especially, in Luke’s passion account, those who reject Jesus are vocal, but appear in the minority. In sum, the type of rejection the Gospels say Jesus experienced in his last hours of life is by no means expressed in the wording of verse two. According to all the Gospel accounts, those who allegedly ridicule Jesus, prior to his execution and at the crucifixion site itself, do not deride his physical condition but, rather, his messianic pretensions (Matthew 27:41-43; Mark 15:29-32; Luke 22:63-64, 23:35-37).

The Christian claim that this verse refers to Jesus is simply without any factual basis.