Thursday, September 22, 2016

Clothed in Righteousness

So we've gone from Adam and Eve naked unaware in the garden to hiding, ashamed, in the bushes, seeking to find without being found, to Jesus being found in the garden and publicly shamed, finding the lost through His willingness to be found, even naked. There is but one scene left in this story, in the way that God weaves this fabric of nakedness and shame, of seeking and finding, through His narrative, and it comes in the empty tomb.

Well, the almost-empty tomb.

Because what we find when we go looking for the crucified Christ is not "nothing," as we so often say, but something very important - His discarded grave clothes, which He has taken the time to fold. This is the final word on shame. 

It's not that death is defeated, although that is a huge part of the almost-empty tomb. It's not that Christ is victorious, although we are thankful that He is. It's that creation has been restored to its original design; man, even this Man, is as He was meant to be. 

In finding the grave clothes, we find the last of the Fall undone. The empty tomb says, I do not need your hiding place, and the grave clothes say, I do not need your coverings. The two things that Adam and Eve scrambled to find after discovering their shame are discarded in the grave clothes - the bush and the fig leaves all over again. Only this time, they lie exposed.

We cannot overstate how eloquently God does all this, how seamlessly this story is woven back into itself so that we cannot help but notice this single thread.

But what of the resurrected Jesus?

What of Him, indeed. There's no record in the Scriptures of where He might have picked up an extra set of clothes; it certainly wasn't in the grave with Him. He took off all He had been given, the tender cloths He had been wrapped in my loving arms (see? fig leaves all over again...again!). We see Him on the road to Emmaus, talking with the disciples. We see Him on the seashores, frying some fish. We see Him in the upper room, meeting with His brothers. And in not one of these narratives do we hear mention of clothes (or lack thereof). So what's the deal? Was the resurrected Jesus naked or not? 

Yes. And no.

Yes, I think that the resurrected Jesus was naked. There's no other conclusion to be drawn from the fact that we find only His discarded clothes than that He was no longer clothed. However, I also know that the resurrected Jesus, just a few days earlier shamed by the world, was unashamed - the original state. So His nakedness was not even a thing. It didn't even matter, except in the grand theological scheme of it all. He wasn't ashamed by it. Others weren't ashamed by it. Nobody probably even noticed.

And if they did not, it is because this is also true: unashamed, He was clothed in righteousness. He was adorned in glory. The way we once were. The way we were created to be. Although we bristle in our modern sensibilities and fallen natures at the mere idea of a naked Jesus, the only thing on display here...was the fullness of God...

...who walks among us in the cool of the day. Unashamed. 

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