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Volume 8, Issue 2: Stauron

The Beauty of the Cross

Jim Nance

One thing I have desired of the Lord , that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple" Psalm 27:4.

Consider the beauty of Jehovah, the King of Kings, enthroned between the cherubim, who dwells in unapproachable light. He is infinite love, absolute truth, perfect holiness. In Him there is no darkness at all. Like King David, the hope of godly men throughout the centuries has been to behold our God, to see Him face to face, and to fall down and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness. Moses, having received the law and the promise of God's presence with Israel, finally requested from God the desire of his heart, "Please, show me Your glory" (Ex. 33:18). Job suffered as no man before him, but he had this hope: "After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:26-27). In another place David says, "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness" (Ps. 17:15). And the apostle John declares that everyone who has th is hope purifies himself: "We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 Jn. 3:2).
The beauty of God is "the beauty of holiness" (Ps. 29:2), like the beauty of a pure, flawless crystal goblet. Consider by contrast the ugliness of sin. Sin is like murky sewage water. Sin denies, distorts and defaces that holiness with murder, adultery, deceitfulness, and covetousness. Envy is like rottenness to the bones (Prov. 14:30), folly is like putrefying ointment (Eccl. 10:1), and adultery is like a deep pit into which those abhorred of the Lord fall (Pr. 22;14). Indeed, sin is so repulsive that God Himself turns from it, as the prophet Habakkuk says, "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness" (Hab. 1:13).
The ugliest of sins to God are religious sins. We may respect people who try to live moral lives, but to God their self-righteousness is like a used menstrual cloth (Is. 64:6). That which is often honored by men is loathed by the Lord. Jesus reserved His harshest condemnations for those who were honored by the people: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white-washed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Mat. 23:27). The murder of our Lord Himself was perpetrated by respectable religious men.
Yet in His murder God has done something wonderful. For in the crucifixion of the Son the holiness and love of God have confronted and overcome the hideousness of sin. Jesus Christ took upon Himself on the cross the filth of our sins, and was thus forsaken by His Father and punished in our place. In His perfect obedience He was that pure, flawless crystal goblet, which was then filled with the sewage water of our sin and smashed by the Father.
We see the ugliness of our sins most clearly as we behold the Son of God hanging from that blood-stained tree. "So His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men" (Is. 52:14). Being covered with our iniquities and the punishment due them, "He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him . . . He was despised, and we did not esteem Him" (Is. 53:2-3). For the love of His people Jesus traded the glory and beauty which He had with the Father from eternity past (John 17:5) for the horror and ugliness of their sin.
Having been raised from the dead, He ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where He is now pouring out His beauty on the church. For Jesus Christ "loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27). He will continue to do this until the earth is as full of "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14).
And in that final day the earth, which was marred through the sin of Adam, will have her beauty restored, "because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21). When Jesus returns to raise the dead, all sin, futility, and decay will be removed forever. "So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power" (1 Cor. 15:42-43). And so with the saints of old we look for the blessed hope, the "glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). Then forever we shall praise Him who has covered the ugliness of our sin with the beauty of the cross.

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