Horror and Holiness

Melissa Cain Travis

I have often wondered why many churches do not have portrayals of the crucifixion on prominent display. I’ve heard remarks about how the empty cross (which is quite pervasive) is a symbol of Christ’s work for us and of His definitive victory over suffering and death. This is a wonderful sentiment. At crucifixionthe same time, I think crucifixion imagery is a powerful representation of the costliness and horror of sin. Prior to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of mankind, animal sacrifices were performed by God’s priests. I can only imagine the full-on sensory assault of that experience: the death of an innocent animal, the sight and smell of the flowing blood, the smell of the burning meat, the pungent smoke rising from the altar.

Ritual animal sacrifice is no longer required for atonement, but I believe we still need frequent sensory reminders of the nature of sin and its blight upon our souls. As Christians, we are indeed a redeemed people…

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