Article by Gareth Clegg
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25)
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
Being Naked and Ashamed
Just as physical nakedness exposes our entire body to scrutiny, the nakedness of our whole self opens our entire being to the possibility of judgement, criticism, and shame. Nothing is covered; everything is known. And yet, the vulnerability of nakedness is what allows us the prospect of being loved. As Tim Keller writes, “to be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”i
In the garden, Adam and Eve enjoyed love and relationship in the presence of God, they were known in the deepest of ways—naked—and remained without shame. Yet, when sin entered the world they sought to cover themselves. Suddenly, their nakedness became shameful and their sin was exposed to one another and to God. We too struggle with shame in our nakedness because we struggle with sin. Like Adam, we say to God and others, “I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3.10). In shame we go into hiding because we fear our real selves being seen by another.
In the manger, Jesus entered into our nakedness. Before being wrapped in swaddling cloths the God-man made himself vulnerable to judgement, criticism, and shame, by coming first as a naked babe. He continued to reveal his real self honestly and openly in his life and ministry. Already fully known to and fully loved by the Father as his righteous, perfect Son, he did not need to hide his nakedness. The Father judged him righteous and beloved. Nevertheless, in the full, vulnerable display of himself—revealing himself to be God—he was unduly despised by many.
Being Loved by God
Romans crucified criminals naked, and when they had stripped him of all his clothes, Jesus was left exposed. “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”” (Luke 23:34-35).
But it was not only the nakedness of his body before the crowd that shamed him, but his nakedness before God in bearing the sin of the world. Jesus took the shame of our sin, and brought it naked before God, bearing the judgement that it deserves. He lived our greatest fear, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46). Because Jesus took the shame of our naked souls for us, like Adam and Eve in the garden we can be naked before God and unashamed. Fully known and truly loved, we are covered in the love and righteousness of Jesus Christ. May we live in the confidence of being fully clothed in his grace.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily held by everyone at Christ City Church.
i Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 74.