Beautiful Scandalous Night

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The life of the believer is marked by tension. 


Rejoice in your suffering.

Love your enemy.

The first will be last.

Blessed are those who mourn.


God is good; evil is everywhere. God is sovereign; terrible things befall us. God is love; He pours out wrath on sin. We are called to be “perfect”; we are entirely incapable of it on our own. 




The tension is confrontational to our human hearts, but we need it if we are ever going to see a real glimpse of the Kingdom of God in all of its complexity and wonder. Our God is not simple, and neither is it simple to truly know Him as He is. But He has given us what we need to do it, the greatest of which is found in the world’s most difficult tension: the cross of Christ.


At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night, you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On the beautiful scandalous night.


At the cross, innocence was mangled, righteousness was mocked, love incarnate pierced with hate. Torture for the spotless Lamb; shame for the King. 


Scandalous. Beautiful.


No death more grisly and demeaning and yet no act more powerful and glorious. Because He chose it. His life was not taken – it was laid down. It’s easy to find the scandal in a crucifixion, but here is where the beauty lies: the God of the universe, willingly humbled to enter into creation as a vulnerable man, hanging on a cross of His own choosing, filled with compassion for those who would scorn Him.


As they mocked, Jesus pleaded: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

As the criminal cried out, Jesus promised: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

As He breathed His final breaths, Jesus declared on our behalf: “It is finished.”


In His deepest, darkest agony, the light of Christ’s love shone with greater strength and splendor than ever before. 


Scandalous. Beautiful.

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide.
Kneel down on the shore, be thirsty no more.
Go under and be purified.


This is your invitation. Run to His mercy; bathe in the cleansing flood; be satisfied. Not because you are worthy, but because He has chosen you as His own. Yet another tension: we who were far off and had nothing to offer but sin and need are welcomed in and made clean; we who would have mocked with the others at the foot of the cross are declared righteous by the work accomplished there; we who should be dead are, instead, made eternally alive.


Scandalous. Beautiful.


Remember, chosen one of God, what was achieved on your behalf. May it never grow dull to you. May you not be overcome by the tensions of the Christian life, but rather be moved to worship by the impossible glory of Jesus’s lovingkindness toward you. May you go forward, day-by-day, rejoicing in the beautiful scandal of the cross.