And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. (Matthew 27: 35, NIV. See also Genesis 3: 7 and Matthew 21:18.)
Jesus is at the top Skull Hill where his life will end in just a few hours. In preparation for his crucifixion, the soldiers have stripped him of his garments. This is not just for the soldiers’ benefit in being able to take his clothes for themselves. This is part of the execution. The Romans crucify criminals naked to add to their humiliation.
And so Jesus is now on display with no clothing. His raw and battered body is fully exposed to the crowd. The mocking and jeering increase as the last shred of cloth is taken from him. Not only is he bearing our sin, but he is now bearing our shame.
Shame. The word floats through the crowd, but rests on few, if any. They are clothed. They have hidden their shame. But Jesus is naked. His shame is all shame for all mankind. It is the shame of Adam and Eve. Adam sinned, and his eyes were opened to his nakedness. The knowledge of right and wrong caused Adam to be ashamed to be naked. God had offered him life, but Adam chose understanding. And now his eyes were opened. No longer did he want to stand in God’s presence as he was. Now he sought to be something other than who he was. He sought to hide behind clothing so that his shame would not be known. And now in Christ’s crucifixion we are going back to the Garden to replace what was stolen: Our ability to be naked and not ashamed.
Jesus is bearing sin that came into the world through the act of this first couple, an act that was accompanied by shame. For thousands of years we have sought to hide our shame behind fig leaves and animal skins. But now this dignity has been stripped from Jesus, and he will bear our nakedness on the cross.
Just a few days before, Jesus came upon a fig tree. He was hungry, but found no fruit on the tree, so he cursed it. The fig tree withered and died. Could it be that Jesus was saying that the fruit produced by the tree that gave us leaves to hide behind is not the fruit he is looking for? Was Jesus saying that the time of fig leaves is over? Is there a permanent way to put shame behind us once and for all?
Jesus is naked before us all. It is our nakedness he bears. It is our shame. He will drink the cup of shame that belongs to us completely. And his nakedness will prove to be our covering, covering our shame once and for all.
I am like Adam. I have sinned, and in my sin my eyes have been opened. I see that I am naked, so I have covered myself with fig leaves to hide my nakedness from the one who already knows that I am naked. Today, I am going to strip away the fig leaves. I am going to go to the Lord as I am. And in doing so, I will find that I no longer have any reason to hide. Jesus has taken my shame as well as my sin. I am now free to stand before God just as I am, for “as I am” is the way the Lord has designed me to be. I trust him to cover my shame with his blood. I can trust him not only for the forgiveness of sin, but for taking away my shame as well.
Jesus, I see you naked on the cross. This was an act of humiliation, yet you bore it for my sake. You were humiliated so that I may be humble. You were shamed so I can be naked and not afraid. Thank you for bearing not only my sin, but my shame as well. You cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit. May I abide in you so that I can bear the fruit you would Â have for me. May I stand before you without having to hide who I really am. May I trust you to love me and accept me without fig leaves.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.