Every now and then when reading through the Old Testament, we come across some of the descriptions of the "disgusting" things the people of Israel were doing to worship other gods, gods they had come to call "their" gods. One of these despicable acts of worship is the live sacrifice of their children, which more often than not, meant their sons.
It doesn't take a lot to convince us how disgusting this is.
Except that the time is coming when Israel's God will turn this story on its head. He will become the God who, condemning His people for the sacrifice of their sons to their so-called gods, will sacrifice His Son for His called-out people.
There are probably a hundred questions, at least, that we could ask about such a story. One of the most pressing is this: as much as we drape the Cross in good things like love and grace, are we missing how disgusting it was supposed to be? Are we missing one of the lessons that God wanted to teach us on Golgotha? Was the Cross supposed to be not only good, but also gross?
I can't speak for God; I don't know exactly how His heart was aching as His Son hung there on Calvary, dressed only in His own blood, His body beaten and broken. I don't know if God thought this was all disgusting, if it was such a spectacle even to Him that His stomach churned, His heart broke, and He just couldn't bear to look any more.
But I do think there was something that was supposed to be poignant about it. I think there was something that Israel was supposed to notice. I don't know if they did.
I don't know if we do.
I don't know if we get that after hundreds upon hundreds of years of watching Israel sacrifice their sons, alive, to mere idols without thinking a second thought of it, God gave His people something to really think about. You want to sacrifice your sons? You want to burn them alive? You want to run knives through them and slaughter them? You want to hold them at these "altars" and make a public spectacle of your piousness?
Lookie here. Look on this Cross and tell Me what you see.
This is what sacrifice looks like. This is a son, My Son, sacrificed on your altar. This is what He looks like beaten and bloody and bruised and broken. This is what He looks like torn and naked and scared. This is what He looks like with nails - real nails - driven straight through His hands, cutting through the very pulse of His beating heart. This is what the spectacle looks like. This is your piousness.
It's a bold statement, that's for sure. It's powerful. I can't imagine how Israel looks at this and doesn't see what's going on here, doesn't understand the display. I can't imagine how the people of God don't think about their own sons, brothers, fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and wonder how many "sons" were sacrificed and for what? For what?
For here hangs a Son, the one and only Son, whose sacrifice does not appease this God, but grieves Him.