Through the grand message of redemptive and doxological history, God’s self-giving love is understood by men and angels in ways they could not otherwise know. I’ve suggested this poetically. Humility, self-denial, the cross, begets exaltation, joy and resurrection. To know the self-giving love of the Trinity, sinners must come and die with Jesus, and so rise with him and know His beauty. At the heart of beauty, both in its nature, and it its perception is the most repeated saying of Jesus: “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Lk. 17:33).
If beauty is ultimately God’s self-knowledge and communicative self-delight, we can explain easily enough why other theories of beauty have defined beauty as harmony and symmetry, or truth and goodness, or pleasure and delight. For Trinitarian love is the ultimate and absolute form of harmony and unity, being a symmetry not of objects but of the will and love of the three persons. Trinitarian love is also truth and goodness: for God’s being is the ground of all reality (truth), the excellence of his being is goodness, and his knowledge and delight in himself is beauty. And as the multiple Hebrew words for beauty showed us, beauty is pleasure and delight.
For all that, there remains a wrinkle. What of ugliness? What of the disharmonious and the painful? Indeed, why should the Cross be central to the biblical message? Where does the gospel fit into a discussion of God’s beauty?
It appears that the answer may lie in the nature of triune love. Love within the Godhead is gratuitous self-giving.
Several Scriptures speak of the Father’s gifts to the Son:
All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him (Matt. 11:27).
The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35).
For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man (John 5:26–27).
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24).