Almost 2000 years ago, the beautiful Son of God voluntarily experienced the ugliness of sin and took on its punishment for our sakes.
Sin is the fatal disease.
Our sinful spiritual condition is like “death caused by a fatal disease.” Sin is “the disease,” and everyone has it. It’s fatal because the result of the sin disease is always death. Our sin separates us from having a relationship with our holy God. That’s a spiritual death.
But, God’s love for people and His mercy towards us led Him to take action. The Son of God came to earth to live as a human without sin and to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin once for all. Never again would an animal need to die for human sin. Jesus Christ did that for us on the cross. Crucifixion was ugly. It was a place of agony and disgrace.
Psalm 22 prophesied the agony and disgrace of crucifixion
Psalm 22 prophetically describes the agony that Jesus experienced during His crucifixion.
The crucified victim hung by his outstretched arms attached to the crossbeam. Usually heavy wrought-iron nails were driven through the wrists and the heel bones (Psalm 22:16).
As the victim hung dangling by the arms, the blood could no longer circulate to his vital organs, and he felt like he was suffocating. His bones would get out of joint (Psalm 22:14).
The victim would sweat profusely and be thirsty (Psalm 22:15).
Sometimes wood was nailed to the main post as a sort of seat. Only by supporting himself on this or by pushing against the nails in his feet could the victim lift himself up to gain any relief. Then exhaustion set in, and death followed, although sometimes not for several days.
To hasten death, the victim’s legs were broken with a club so he couldn’t keep pushing up to stay alive. The fact that Jesus’ bones were not broken fulfilled another prophecy from Psalm 22.
Psalm 22 prophetically describes the disgrace that Jesus experienced during His crucifixion.
The words in Psalm 22:6-8 describe the humiliation of public execution and match what the crowd actually said to Jesus.
The casting of lots seen in Psalm 22:18 was literally fulfilled.
Why the cross?
Crucifixion provided the best scenario for Jews and non-Jews alike because both groups participated in the sinful act of executing God’s Son. Acts 2:23
It was God’s plan for His Son to die on that cross for all of humanity’s sin. No human being would ever come up with that plan. It requires faith alone, which is exactly what God wanted. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24
“Paul persisted in preaching Jesus as the crucified Savior and sin-bearer, the unexpected happened: pagans, as well as Jews and God-fearers, believed the message and found their lives transformed by a new, liberating power, which broke the stranglehold of selfishness and vice and purified them from within. The message of Christ crucified had thus accomplished something which no [amount] of Greek philosophic teaching could have done for them.” (F. F. Bruce, Paul, the Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 253)
Every bit of our sin is so ugly to God. As ugly as the crucifixion. But, our redemption is absolutely beautiful. But, God’s in the business of making ugly beautiful.
The beauty of what Christ has done for you
Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, believers are cleansed of all sin and made new creations of life when God plants His Spirit within us. We are made alive as Christ is alive. That’s beautiful. Colossians 2:13-14
God gives us eternal spiritual life from the moment we believe, and we have complete acceptance before a holy God by faith alone. That which stood against us, the ugliness of our sin, is gone. Christ’s life is given to us, living in us. That’s beautiful.
When we die, we now have hope of eternal life in the presence of God so physical death is no longer to be feared. Jesus frees us from the fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15
Live out the beautiful.
You get to live out this beautiful new life each day. Paul told us how to live this beautiful new life each and every day in Galatians 2 20:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
The ugliness of the crucifixion becomes the beauty of Christ’s life in you, in me. Are you grateful for the beauty that God has made out of your ugliness? Are you longing to worship Him for it?
What ugliness in your life has God made beautiful because of Jesus Christ living in you? Let your heart sing out to Him joyfully today and every day. Graceful living starts with God making ugly beautiful in your life.
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with His grace so that your life overflows with His grace every day. You will experience a life of freedom and joy!