Jesus probably didn’t look like much.

Those from His hometown certainly did not accept Him as the Messiah. They said of Him in Mark 6:2-4– “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”

In fact, Isaiah 53:2 which describes the coming Messiah says: “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him” (NLT).

It is kind of easy to understand why the Pharisees would not recognize Jesus as the Son of God. They (and we) had in their minds that the Messiah would arrive in a great display of power.

They were expecting Tony Robbins.  Robbins is nicknamed “Banana Hands” because of his HUGE hands.  He is 6’7″ and weighs 265 lbs.  He walks on hot coals; he works crowds into a frenzy with his energetic, motivational speeches.  He seeks to help people reach their full potential in life and to access their own “Personal Power.”

Jesus, simply was not that.  Jesus, was “just” a Man from Galilee who couldn’t possibly be the long-expected Messiah of the Jews.

Consequently, the Pharisees frequently tried to antagonize Jesus. They would seek to catch Him in some theological inconsistency. They accused Him of errors in interpreting the Law. However, Jesus was always wise. He always out-smarted His opponents. He always corrected their error and caused the truth of God’s Word to shine more brightly.

Consider Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees in Luke 17…

 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’
for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you (within you).”
Luke 17:20-21

The Pharisees asked Jesus about the time of the Kingdom’s arrival.  Jesus emphatically said, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed… the kingdom of God is in the midst of you…”  In other words, the Kingdom is not coming with tanks rolling down the street.  It is not coming with Stealth bombers flying overhead.  It is not coming with troops marching lockstep down the street.

It is coming silently but discernibly within PEOPLE.  Yes, it is true that Christ WILL return in a magnificent display of power at His Second Coming, but His kingdom IS coming through the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Not as the Pharisees expected)…

The apostle Paul talks about the effect of the Spirit’s work in the lives of Christians as fruit.  He says the following in Galatians 5:22-23:”the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Dr. Timothy Keller says the following about the above passage:

“Christian change is as gradual as a potato or a flower growing. Botanical growth you can never really see happen.  You can know it is happening.  Even with a child you can say, “I think you have grown.”  You can’t actually see them growing. It can only be measured.

In much the same way, a trial comes or a test comes suddenly into your life and you see how you respond to it and you think to yourself, “my goodness—a couple of years ago I could have never (been that patient) (or responded in that way)…”

Growth in the various fruit of the Spirit is gradual.  You can’t talk to a friend and say, “I discernibly feel more loving than I did 5 minutes ago.”  However, your friend might say to you, “you know, when I first met you 10 years ago you used to freak out about EVERYTHING, but you know what?  You are really exhibiting much more patience now.”

Much like we can’t visibly see fruit grow, we often have to wait several years to see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  Therefore, as Keller states, “we have to be patient.”

However, Keller also states that Christian change is not only gradual, it is also inevitable.  True spiritual change is GOING to happen if the Holy Spirit indwells in your heart. 1 Peter 1:23 states: “you have been born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable–through the living and abiding word of God.”

Christian change is certain to happen because the seed of the word of God has made us alive.  God’s word will never die, but it will produce that for which He sends it our to do–bring gradual, inevitable growth in the life of every child of God.

On the surface of things, much like Jesus’ physical appearance, Christianity may not look like much.  There may be great struggles; there may be years when we will be tempted to “despise the day of small things”–very little noticeable change (Zechariah 4:10).  However, the Christian can be supremely confident that God will produce spiritual growth in his or her life.