So recently while preparing a sermon, I played with the idea of using Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes as an illustration for the way that the world views sin, i.e. mankind, like the emperor, parades around in its “beautiful” new clothes of sin but is really naked. So as I thought about this more (and honestly, started walking the illustration on all fours), I realized (though I’m sure I’m not the first one to realize this) that sin is often portrayed in Scripture as nakedness. Though before the Fall, nakedness was the good and natural way of things, afterwards it becomes associated with shame.
How curious that the first effect of the Fall that Adam and Eve notice is their nakedness. “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” And perhaps even more curious is that Christ’s saving atonement is foreshadowed by the clothing of Adam and Even with animal skins, the covering of their nakedness.
There are a ton of verses, but here are a few snapshots:
-Exodus 20:26, “And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.”
-Isaiah 47:3, “Your nakedness shall be uncovered, and your disgrace shall be seen. I will take vengeance, and I will spare no one.”
-MIcah 1:11, “Pass on your way, inhabitants of Shaphir, in nakedness and shame.”
-Revelation 3:15-18, “ “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 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, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.'”
And just as God graciously (truly this is gospel) covered our first parents with the skins of another, so we have been covered by the blood of Christ, and he has removed our shame. The Hebrew word for atone even means ‘to cover.’ Romans 4:7, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Indeed, the gospel could be expressed as the nakedness of our sin and shame being covered with Christ’s righteousness.
I wonder if it would be a stretch to said that he was made naked so that our nakedness might be covered: “And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take”(Mark 15:24). Perhaps it was fitting that as the Righteous one was made sin, that he should be nakedness so as fully identify with the beneficiaries of his priestly sacrifice.
Praise Jesus that now those who are his are clothed in robes of holy purity, no longer naked and ashamed.