Wednesday, September 21, 2016


The shame narrative, as well as the twist that it takes on hide and seek, is an important one in the opening chapters of the Bible. But its importance is not truly felt until much later, until the closing chapters of the Gospels.

Here, we encounter a Jesus who turns the shame narrative on its end. 

Adam and Eve ate from a tree, discovered their nakedness, crouched in a bush, and sought God from their hiding place, hoping to find without being found. At the close of the Gospels, Jesus knelt in the garden, praying, when He was arrested, stripped naked, and hung from a tree, right in plain view of everyone. He was neither hiding nor seeking; He was found and exposed.

We often miss this. For as much gore, as much lewdness, as much depravity as we are willing to put up with in our popular television shows, video games, movies, music, etc., we still always seem somehow to clean up this aspect of the Cross. We show a Jesus bloody, but clothed. Condemned, but not wholly rejected. Crucified, but not ashamed. 

We show Him hanging there, wrapped in some ancient garment of modesty, even while the soldiers throw dice for His clothes at the base of His cross. Even while they play out the very Scriptures on the matter, our discomfort with the whole idea hangs hauntingly behind them - we are not comfortable with a naked Jesus. Not even here, where we have been told that He was stripped and beaten. Not even here where we have been told that His clothes were anted in a dice game. It's not like He packed an extra change of clothes for Calvary; this was not merely His luggage that they were going through. This was His covering.

They left Him exposed.

I don't think we can stress this enough. I don't think we can say it often enough. To do what we've done to the Cross narrative, to clean it up, to sanitize it, to line it up with our own modern sensibilities is to miss out on the craftsmanship of the story. It's to miss all the connections from the first days to these last hours. It's to miss what God is doing at Golgotha that hearkens back to the Garden. It's the same thing God does throughout the entire Bible - weaving one story into another until all the frayed ends are so much a part of the fabric of grace that it's seamless.

And it's not just shame. It's the whole scene. It's the nakedness, sure, but it's also the hiding, also the seeking. There was nowhere on that hill for Jesus to hide. Perish the thought. Our God, the same God who walked with us in the Garden, has never feared being exposed. He's never feared being known. He's never been afraid to make a bold public statement of His presence, naked or otherwise (and for what it's worth, why is God walking around in the Garden with a long, flowing robe while Adam and Eve are naked?). He wants to be found, so much so that He's not afraid to be right out in the open. 

Yet still we looked right past Him. Still, we turned our eyes. On a hill on the edge of Jerusalem, a public spectacle was taking place and we, too ashamed to look at Him, hid in the bushes. We hid in the busyness. We hid in the markets and the temples and the public squares, going about our daily lives, not because of our shame, but because of His. And then, though we did no seeking, thinking there was nothing to be found, the hard truth hit in the blow of a ram's horn -

It is we who had been found. 

This is what's so beautiful about God. Here we were in the Garden together, and we discovered our shame, and we immediately dove for cover, living our lives in the shrubs, seeking but never finding because we refused ourselves to be found. And then here comes God, praying in the garden, arrested and ashamed, right out in the open for all to see, and we are found by the One we weren't even seeking, all because He Himself lived found. It's a tangled mess of a beautiful paradox, and it's just exactly the sort of thing that God does. It's one of the things I love about the Bible.

But we miss it completely when we turn our eyes from the shame, from the nakedness, of our Lord on the Cross. 

The story doesn't end here, though. There's more going on here with shame and exposition. More on that, tomorrow....

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