We’ve recently discussed that Jesus is the answer to our question, “Where’s the Father?” And if I may, I’d like to take this a step further.
Jesus is the exact image of the Father. Yes and Amen! Every miracle is a demonstration of the God who is love. Every hungry soul that was fed, every naked body that was clothed, every marginalized being that was saturated with dignity; all of these experiences were reflections of who God is.
But the ultimate expression of the Love who is God is, I submit to you, the Crucified Jesus.
This Love in human form walks where we walk, weeps when we weep, rejoices when we rejoice. This Love is a friend to sinners (which, spoiler alert, is ALL of us. Yup. You, me, even Dupree.), a defender of the weak, healer to the sick, liberator of the oppressed. This Love runs down our prodigal road, splits the seas for us to walk right through, moves our mountains of pain and calms our storms of dismay. So far does this Love go that he was willing to endure the agony of the cross.
The cross event is frequently articulated as repulsive, abominable; the ugliest event in history. And I think that it’s true. The crucifixion of Christ, the nails that my sin helped pound in the flesh of this perfect Love, it is revolting.
But I dare say, as heinous as it all is, it reveals an underlying beauty.
The cross reveals the ugliness of human sin AND the beauty of divine love. This is a beauty that will save the world.*
“Beauty is the splendor of truth, ” said Plato. We’re so familiar with asking, Is it Good? Is it True? But we must also ask, with equal regularity, Is it Beautiful? For the living union of truth and goodness denotes the integrity of being from which beauty springs forth. We can sum it up with the single Greek term, Kalokagathia, (Kalos, which means beautiful. Kai, which means and. Agathos, which means good.)*
The cross event is Kalokagathia.
It is good.
It is true.
And it is beautiful.
The cross is cruciform beauty.*
If we want to know the father, we must look to the crucified Christ. On this Good Friday, dear friends, look to the cross. Meditate upon the cruciform beauty of Christ. And reflect that same love and beauty into this wounded and lovely world in which we live.
* Featured Image: Rembrandt, Christ crucified between the two thieves.
* Brian Zhand, Beauty Will Save the World.
* Paul Evdokimov, The Art of the Icon: a theology of beauty
* Video from The Work of the People. An organization I love dearly and I think you should, too.