Where is the unloveliness?
I'm often frustrated and humbled by how often and quickly I forget the loveliness of the Cross of Christ but even more the loveliness of the Man Jesus who hung there for me. Stoniness, blindness, and callousness are the enemies I so often wrestle with, and the weapons used against me are distractions, busyness, and worldliness. I frequently ask myself, as the Apostle Paul did:
"...who will deliver me from this body of death?" Romans 7:24
My heart's plea finds its answer at the Cross of Christ. But "where is the loveliness?" some may ask. It is marked out in gaping lacerations that are pouring out His lifeblood. It's in the punctures and contusions, slashes and abrasions of our sins beaten into His body. It's in His innocence abandoned; He that is light of the world shrouding Himself with the darkness of the world. His Father's love forfeited for His Fathers hate, and His very life swapped for death. He became unforgivable so that we could be forgiven. He wrapped Himself in the robe of our sins so we can be wrapped in the robe of His righteousness.
Yet, as astounding, beautiful, and lovely His substitution for me at the Cross proves Him to be, there are higher peaks to be reached that make Him the most radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. That which makes His loveliness exceptionally extraordinary is that there was nothing in me to call forth such a sacrifice. There was nothing about me that warranted such chords of love. As much as He became Sin is as much as I had become darkness. As deeply as He cherished me is as deep as I despised Him. As perfectly His obedience is as perfectly I purposely disobeyed. Where is the loveliness? I must ask instead, where is the unloveliness? If there is anything that can turn a callous heart into a compassionate heart, a dull heart into a heart filled with excitement, and a blind heart into a discerning heart, it's the spear pierced heart of Jesus. All my sins, guilt, and shame have been submerged in His blood, concealed in His body, and buried by His Grace.
The sweet-smelling aroma that makes Him handsome and charming, appealing and ravishing above all is that He gave "Himself."
"who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own eager to do what is good" Titus 2:14
With arms wide open, fixed in place by the iron nails of my sins, with every laboring breath, every sob, the agony of my transgression hammered into His frame, the Lawgiver became the Lawbreaker. And the smile of heaven was traded for the frown of Hell so that you and I, wretched sinners, can become the welcomed saints.