Naked and Unashamed
I really don’t like to picture Jesus on the cross. I know He has conquered death and the cross has now become a thing of beauty, but I can’t fully accept the beauty of the empty cross without first wholly embracing the ugliness of it. Mel Gibson gave me a vision in his movie The Passion of the Christ. My mind took in another aspect after reading an article in my alumni magazine. My alma mater has a painting on display of the crucifixion. The artist, a Bryan College alumnus, painted this scene to depict the reality of the Bible’s descriptions, rather than the beautiful museum renderings. The artist felt it was vital to paint Jesus without clothing since the Bible says that they took His clothes from Him.
I can understand why other artists would rather give at least an ounce of dignityto the blood-smeared, unbecoming, dying Christ. Just a little loin cloth to coverHis nakedness makes sense. As I pondered Jesus naked on the cross, I realizedthat I wanted Jesus to be clothed for me, for my sake. I want to make the crossless humiliating for me to look at. I don’t want to think of Jesus hangingnaked. I don’t want to face the utter inhumanness of mankind and a deeperdarkness of the reality of sin.
Jesus, however, was naked and unashamed. Unlike the first Adam, our second Adambrought dignity to His nakedness. He was born into this world naked and diednaked too. And as my son taught me when he was five years old: “When Jesuscame into the world, they wrapped Him in cloths and when He died they wrappedHim in cloths.” Jesus evokes profound thoughts. The cross crosses my mindin newer and richer ways every year. I don’t want to think of Jesus nakedon the cross, but Jesus was willing to experience the shame of the cross to revealour true shame and show us the reality of our own nakedness.
Looking at a naked Jesus on the cross should produce shame in us. We look upona shameless One and come face to face with our own nakedness. None of us wouldwant to be naked and nailed to a cross for all to mock. Jesus chose that fateso He could finally cover our naked, shameful condition. Jesus isn’t theOne who is shamed by His nakedness; it is we who are brought to our senses whenwe see that Jesus was stripped for us to help us see our nakedness in the lightof God’s holiness.
Job seemed to accept his own naked condition. After losing his children and allhis possessions in one day he commented, “Naked I came from my mother'swomb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; maythe name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21). It’s not Jesus’ nakednessthat should turn our eyes away in shame; it is how Jesus’ nakedness revealsour nakedness, our own inability to save ourselves. The One who conquered deathmade a true covering for us. God pictured this in the garden after Adam and Evesinned when He shed the blood of an animal and made garments for them to wearto replace their pitiful fig leaves. The clothes of this world will not last.We must clothe ourselves in Jesus’ righteousness or we will be forevernaked and ashamed.