The Naked King

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWSMany of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’

Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

‘They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.’

So this is what the soldiers did.

[John 19:19-24]

The Son of God.  Nailed to a wooden cross. Wasn’t it humiliating enough to be spit on? To be mocked? To be looked at as a failure? But no, they went a step further. They came up with one more way to shame Him.

They stripped him down.

Naked.

This wasn’t a random fact of the story. This wasn’t a detail that was to be skipped over. This was a picture of why Jesus hung there on the cross.

His nakedness represented us.

Who He was dying for.

Who He was dying in place of.

Why?

Because it was a picture of how God sees us apart from Christ.

Naked.

It all began in Genesis.

“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” [Genesis 2:25]

No shame. Innocence.

But then Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They gave into the serpent’s lies. Sin entered the world.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked. [Genesis 3:7]

They realized they were naked.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’

He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’

And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?'” [Genesis 3:8-11]

So here we are in the Garden. Moments after sin entered the world. And Adam and God were having a conversation.

About nakedness.

Because this was new. This was different. This wasn’t right. This was a feeling Adam and Eve hadn’t felt before. This feeling of being exposed and the need to hide.

Before this, they walked and talked with God. They had a perfect relationship with Him.

Now?

Their nakedness represented something completely different.

They felt exposed.

They felt shame.

They felt guilt.

It separated them from God. What was once a perfect relationship turned into hiding from their Creator.

That’s what sin does to us.

It breaks our relationship with a perfect and holy God.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]

John describes us in our state of sinfulness:

“But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” [Revelation 3:17]

Naked.

Oh, but we do try to cover ourselves.

Just like Adam and Eve did right after they disobeyed God.

“So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” [Genesis 3:7]

They were exposed and wanted to cover up. They sewed fig leaves together, in an attempt to no longer be naked.

We too try to cover ourselves in our own effort.

By saying all the right things.

By doing all the right things.

By condemning all the wrong things.

But these “righteous acts” that we do in our own power are nothing more than filthy rags, as Isaiah describes:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” [Isaiah 64:6]

But God used that moment with Adam and Eve in the Garden to show what was to come. Instead of them coming up with a way to “cover” themselves, He covered them. He was the only one who could do it.

“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” [Genesis 3:21]

For God to cover them, an animal was killed. A life was taken to cover up their nakedness.

“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” [Hebrews 9:22]

It was a picture of what God was going to do one day.

So here we are, back at the cross. Jesus, being crucified. This is the redemption plan God had in place all along. He knew Adam and Eve were going to disobey. Being a holy and perfect God, He knew the result of this.

“For the wages of sin in death.” [Romans 6:23]

But that didn’t have to be the period. That didn’t have to be the end. Because He loved us and wanted a relationship with us.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]

He was going to send His Son to die.

To be naked in place of us.

To once and for all cover up our nakedness.

Paul describes it like this in 2 Corinthians:

 “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21]

Jesus was stripped down. As He was crucified, He took on our sin, our shame, and our nakedness. All the wrong of the world and all of our guilt was put on the innocent life of Jesus.

Paul writes:

“Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all people, so also the results of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all people.”[Romans 5:18]

Again he writes:

 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” [Galatians 3:13]

And Peter says it like this:

 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” [1 Peter 2:24]

He became sin for us – naked for us – so we no longer would have to be.

And if we’re no longer naked, the result then would have to be that we’ve been clothed! That’s exactly what happens!

Isaiah writes:

 “I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” [Isaiah 61:10]

We are no longer exposed. We no longer fall short of God’s glory. He clothes us with garments of salvation and robes of His righteousness. We put on all of His glory and His holiness.

“Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.” [Revelation 3:17]

Dressed in fine linen. Bright and clean.

And these clothes were given to us to wear.

Given to us by Christ. Not bought on our own. Not earned by our own attempts. They were bought by His work on the cross when He took on our punishment for our sin.

These clothes allow us to have that relationship with God that He intended for us to have. When we accept Jesus and believe that He took on our sin and died in place of us, these clothes are put on us. The guilt and shame that separated us from a holy God are gone! Christ’s righteousness and perfection cover us.

We see this beautifully illustrated in the book of Zechariah:

 “The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’” [Zechariah 3:3-4]

Our Savior became sin for us. We no longer have to be naked. We no longer have to cover up ourselves with filthy clothes. He has redeemed us. He has saved us! What a wonderful King!