by Parker Hathaway, correspondent
At the pinnacle of life before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. The origin of sin is unclear, but the effects are devastating. The married couple was no longer naked (arom) and unashamed, but naked (erom) and afraid. The two Hebrew words for nakedness—arom and erom—are stark in contrast. The former is to be understood in light of “unashamed,” while the latter is clearly depicted as being filled with shame. Adam and Eve were naked and under God’s judgment. Likewise, Noah would soon follow in their path.
The re-creation through the flood sets the scene. Noah, who was made in the image of God and responsible of the divine mandate to “be fruitful and multiply,” continues the Adamic role. Instead of eating from a tree, Noah drank from a vineyard. His drunkenness led to nakedness, and once he woke, Noah knew what his son had done to him.
The knowledge of nakedness separated Adam from his wife, and now this same knowledge separated Noah from his son. In Genesis 3, God covered Adam’s nakedness, and in Genesis 9, the godly sons covered Noah.
Nakedness continues as a theme through both testaments, describing the shame of man. Aaron’s sons were to be clothed from hips to thighs upon entering the tent of meeting or else they would face death. In Leviticus 18, nakedness was used as a euphemism for incest and sexual adultery. Describing Israel’s shame, Ezekiel 16 depicts God’s people as “naked and bare.” The writer of Hebrews reminds us that “no creature is hidden from [God’s] sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eye of Him whom we must give account.”
Jesus of Nazareth was naked on the cross.
Nakedness is an awkward word. It is a state we all try to avoid, yet it is our “birthday suit.” Once we are old enough to know that, we desire to be clothed. Clothes cover our exposure, they protect us from being abused and victimized. So, why is it that in our pictures of the crucified Christ we clothe Him? Do you not know He was naked? Like the first Adam, the second Adam was shamed as He carried the shame of many. The man who knew no sin became sin for us. Jesus, carrying the weight of God’s judgment displayed in His nakedness, was crucified on a cross. And yet we clothe Jesus in our paintings, protecting Him from His sexual abuse.
The theme of nakedness lends itself to the need to be clothed. Jesus, speaking to the Church of Laodicea from Revelation, says, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen.”
Just as Yahweh brought Adam and Eve suitable clothing, and He worked through Noah’s sons to clothe their father, now Paul urges us to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus was naked and shamed on the cross so that we may be clothed and unashamed in the righteousness of His resurrection.