Here is another level of the mystery and paradox of the Christ. His death upon the Cross was meant to maximize the shame he would experience: the death was degrading. It was made as public as possible, not merely to terrorize the populace (you will be next!) but to degrade the subject: you are utterly without power against the Roman government.
And yet, upon his resurrection, those wounds which he still bears in his body, are his greatest ornament of power and praise. The rulers of the world did their worst and he overcame – not merely the men who attacked him but also the death itself. And in conquering death and bearing the penalty for sin he overcame the curse God had laid upon creation for the sin of Adam.
There is another paradox here: not merely the paradox of power and glory in shame and weakness, but also the paradox of beauty. Isaiah 53:2 says of the coming messiah:
He had no form or beauty that we should look at him
And no beauty that we should desire him.
And yet, in his conquering, the Lord has become beautiful: the evil poured upon him turned to praise, honor and glory. As David prays in Psalm 27:4
One thing I have asked of the Lord
That I will seek after
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
And to inquire in his temple
And so Taylor, looking upon the broken Christ who wounds heal stops in the middle of mediation to praise the beauty of the Lord:
Oh! Lovely one! How doth thy loveliness
Beam through the crystal casement of the eyes (20)
Of saints and angels sparkling flakes of fresh
Heart ravishing beauty, filling up their joys?
And th’devils too; if envy’s pupils stood
Not peeping there these sparkling rays t’exclude?
This stanza is, for Taylor, rather straightforward. The beauty of Christ beams through the eye: The understanding being that rather than light reflecting the object gives off its radiance. This beauty is such that it is “heart ravishing” – it is also a beauty that creates joy in the one who sees the beauty.
But there is something interesting here: Envy makes it impossible to see and enjoy this beauty. That is an interesting observation: rather than rejoicing in the beauty – which is a proper response to beauty – the devils look upon the sight of Christ with envy for his greatness and rather than rejoicing in the sight they experience envy. The envy in the one seeing the beauty blots out the sight of beauty.
Envy’s pupil peeps out (not the alliteration on the “p”) and excludes the sight of beauty.
There is something here for us to understand about human nature too.