Can the Crucifixion be Beautiful?

Sept. 26, 2019

Can the Crucifixion be beautiful? This was a question discussed on a pod cast, “Believe to See”, from The Anselm society, an artist group in Colorado Springs. It sent my brain on a ponder that has lasted several weeks now. I admit, I was raised in an Assembly of God Church. We didn’t glorify the Crucifixion. When asked about that my mom used to say, “We don’t leave Jesus on the Cross, we raise him from the dead.”

What I know is that my church adorned crosses with flowers, scarves, vines or any number of things to adorn the cross, but we never put Christ on that cross. When I saw crucifixes they always stood stark and cruel in contrast. The outstretched body of Christ, nails in his hands and feet, a pierced side and a crown of thorns adorning his head, loomed grotesque, on the sacred cross.

I admit that my first response to the idea that the crucifixion could be beautiful baffled me. Sure it was beautiful in what it represented. The unconditional love of our Savior, the self sacrifice of a Father’s love, and universal suffering of all, for all. 

The crucifixion can be art. The type of art that disturbs the comfortable. The type of art that makes a statement by representing a truth that is often overlooked. Perhaps it cannot be beautiful because of the suffering it depicts. Like the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, It makes a life altering statement, but the memory of human suffering is not what most of us consider beautiful.

….and yet true art and true beauty possess both high and lowlights. Both light and darkness must exist together in order for beauty to shine. I am coming to the conclusion that the crucifixion is indeed beautiful within the context of meaning. It however stands ugly and grotesque apart from that context. 

Crosses are the icon that some, wear around their necks like a badge of honor, or a shield against evil, or a simple declaration of their faith. I see the cross and the crucifixion as a more universal sign. It stands with all who suffer the indignities of life. It stands beside those who are persecuted. It stands with the weak, the young and the inconsequential. It stands for the poor, the homeless, the persecuted. 

The crucifixion is beauty. The kind of beauty that ministers to the sick and the broken. The kind of beauty that stands with the accused. The kind of beauty that hugs the unlovable. 

I am sad that the crucifixion often gets lost in the icon-ablility, because of its simplicity it is easily marketed achieving wide recognition but often context and the depth of its meaning is lost. When context is lost much beauty is lost as well. 

A bird is beautiful but when put in the context of a forest it can be spectacular. How spectacular would it be if we could truly understand the crucifixion in the context of a Savior’s unconditional love and the self sacrifice of a Father’s love? or What if we understood, truly understood the Universal suffering that it represents?

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