I have yet to see an anatomically correct picture, or model, of Jesus on the cross. I am sure they exist but I haven’t seen them. All those that I have seen have some piece of cloth draped conveniently over his groin area. We never get to see his genitals.
I can understand our hesitance to think of Jesus having a penis. And exposed. But we defend the doctrine of his true humanity. And all those crucified during Roman times were crucified naked to add to their shame and disgrace. (The soldiers in John 19:23-24 were probably trying to divide his undergarment, his last piece of clothing.) It’s just that the thought is so disturbing we choose not to think of it.
No, there is no erotic titillation here. Just a further comprehension of how much God humiliated Himself on our behalf. When we think of Jesus dying naked on the cross, remember also his statement that whoever has seen him has seen the Father(John 14:9). God exposed, shamed, dying, dead.
In recent times our attention has been captivated by many things—war, pestilence, hunger, death—handy work of the horsemen of the apocalypse. This Good Friday, may our vision be filled with the Cross. For the most startling thing that has ever happened, the one event that truly shocks and awe, is the extent of God’s love revealed on the Cross.
It is a big love, encompassing all time and space. It is also an effective love. For out of that dead humiliated body would flow blood and water(John 19:34). Blood to cleanse away our sins. And living water to give us true life. An essential message for troubled times.
The one good thing about a world in turmoil is that it is a reminder that things are not all right. Malaysian TV has a spot where a British pop group, let’s call them the ‘nuclear tabbies’, tells people to “feel good” about themselves, their family, their friends, and the world.
Hello! How on earth am I to feel good if a good friend is depressed? My family breaking up? The world racked by war and disease? My own life falling apart? Feel good? What sort of escapist advice is this? The only way we can “feel good” about a world going to hell is if we are taking banned pharmaceutical substances.
Maybe we choose to close our eyes and feel good because the alternative is just too painful. We get overwhelmed by the pain around us. And the pain in us. And the suicide of people like Leslie Cheung may be the only logical response to the suffocating despair that surrounds us.
But today is Good Friday and we are reminded that we do have a choice beyond escapism and despair. We have the Cross of Christ.
Hard as it may be to comprehend, God does for us what we could never do for ourselves. He comes in true humanity to absorb both our sin and the consequences of our sin. My mind hurts when I try to imagine what it’s like to carry the sin and shame and pain of ALL humanity. Yet that’s what Jesus did.
But it’s not our job to try to comprehend the nature of this act of divine loving folly. All I need to know is that Jesus died naked on the cross, stripped of all dignity. And now provides the only lifeline in a world of pain and a life of despair. My only lifeline.
I don’t know about the other religions. But in Christ I find a God who can truly understands my pain. I find a God who has taken my sin and pain upon Himself. And has given me a way out. A road from death to life.
It’s just that I never expected that God would show His love so overwhelmingly. That came right out of left field. And after all these years, leaves me speechless still.
“Fill my eyes O my Lord with a vision of the Cross, Fill my heart with love for Jesus the Nazarene?”
Your brother, this Good Friday, SooInn