Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The World’s Eighth Wonder

Guest Post by Melanie Brasher

To what length will a man go to demonstrate his love for his lover?

For Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan it meant approximately twenty two years, twenty thousand laborers, and numerous precious stones from six countries to erect a multi-chambered marble tomb for his deceased wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

It meant the creation of the Taj Mahal--the world’s seventh wonder.

A few years back, I visited this architectural masterpiece, and as a typical tourist captured it with camera flash. As I snapped various angles of this monument, it occurred to me that in essence, I {along with several other gullible tourists} had paid money to see a tomb—an ordinary woman’s grave {alright, she was a queen}. Yet, it couldn’t be Mumtaz’s royal status that drew millions of tourists to the site.

What was the fundamental attraction of this place?

As one of the world’s seven man-made wonders, the Taj Mahal is considered an exquisite work of man. The hand chiseled symmetrical patterns etched on the marble walls, the four minarets, and the one hundred and fifteen foot marble dome that surmounts the tomb proves the craftsmanship a brilliant piece of fine art.

But is aesthetic beauty the only attractive feature?

Perhaps, the greatest attraction is the profound symbolism behind the Taj’s grand walls. Perhaps, the world stands in awe of the emperor’s colossal action-based love for his lover. For centuries, the Taj has been the topic of many love poems. Rabindra Nath Tagore writes, “let the splendor or diamond, pearl and ruby vanish…only let this teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the check of time forever and ever…”

It’s the labor of love that attracts droves of tourists annually.

The love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz is a rare jewel, and the creation of the ornate tomb truly a monumental display of love. Yet, I can think of an infinitely greater expression of love—Jesus Christ’s love for humanity.

I call it the world’s eighth wonder.

Jesus Christ, God incarnate, came down to the level of humankind for the sole purpose of offering his life to redeem humanity. Unlike the Taj Mahal, Jesus had no apparent “beauty or majesty to attract us to him.” (Isaiah 53:3).

Yet, what was so alluring about Christ’s love for humanity? Perhaps, it was His sacrificial, agape, or unconditional love. Instead of giving marble, crystal and jasper, He gave himself. The nails in His hands, crown of thorns on His brow, and wooden cross displayed His love.

The Bible sums up this sacrificial love in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. God’s love for humanity went beyond words or feelings; it was one of action and demonstration.

But unlike Emperor Shah Jahan, God loved even when it was not reciprocated. The Bible says that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). While we hated him, God gave his very own flesh and blood so that we could know him and experience life.

Although Shah Jahan’s demonstration of love is impressive, and perhaps even out of this world, it pales in comparison to Christ’s nailed pierced hands and feet.

The cross stands as the eternal symbol of true love.

Melanie Brasher is a full time mama of two boys and wife to an incredible husband who understands her bicultural upbringing. She moonlights as a fiction and freelance writer, crafting stories and articles toward justice and change, and dreams of becoming a voice for the unheard. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a contributing blogger for Hoosier Ink and Ungrind. Though she’s an aspiring author, she’ll never quit her day job.


  1. Beautifully drawn analogy! Man's efforts at love pale in comparison to God's love for humankind. Thank you for reminding us so powerfully.

  2. Welcome to this blog, Joy, and thanks for your thoughtful posting.