He Bore Our Nakedness

Yesterday, I found myself standing in front of a frieze depicting Jesus being stripped. It’s a 75-year-old piece of artwork on the wall of my church, and it’s part of a display portraying the Stations of the Cross; an ancient devotion retracing Jesus’ journey through Jerusalem on the day he was crucified. Station 10 is titled “Jesus is stripped of his garments.” And I think it stood out to me this week because I’ve been thinking about nakedness. 

Tomorrow, I’m speaking at a men’s retreat about lust and sexual sin. We’re going to dive into the porn epidemic, the God-given need for intimacy, and the ways we misuse our bodies. Nakedness is a powerful theme throughout the Bible, representing both innocence and shame. 

Standing in front of Station 10, I wondered about Jesus’ relationship with nakedness. In his pre-incarnate form, Jesus walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden while they were still naked and unashamed. It was only after sin brought shame into our story that people felt the need to cover up. I wonder, as a sinless person, was Jesus more at ease with his own nakedness than those around him? Did he cover up out of decorum rather than modesty? And when his torturers stripped him as an act of public shaming, did it humiliate him in the way it was intended? 

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote this about what Jesus accomplished that day: 

He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The torture that was intended to make a shameful spectacle of Jesus was turned on its head. Jesus made a spectacle of shame and overcame it. 

Out of respect, we tend not to think of Jesus’ nakedness. But isn’t it just like the upside-down nature of our God to take on flesh — even flesh with genitalia — and to be exposed, even as he exposed the futility of the enemy’s plans? 

Our Savior took not only our iniquity, but also our shame on the cross. He bore our disgrace to offer us grace. The sinless one bore our sin. The innocent one bore our sentence. The shameless one bore our nakedness. And with echoes of Genesis 1, the Creator God used the cross to inaugurate one new humanity.