He Came for our Shame

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
(Genesis 2:25)

I seem to be raising an exhibitionist.  I want to protect his identity, so I won’t reveal which child, but one of my little boys (under 7) apparently has no sense of shame.  He’ll run through the house naked, having “forgotten” to bring his clean pajamas and underwear down for after his shower, never giving a second thought to his, ahem… current state of affairs.  I’m praying, hoping, that someday here soon he will develop a sense of modesty and dignity – we’ll see.

I only mention this because I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the story of the fall.  We read in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and we are told that their “eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”  The next thing we know, Adam and Eve are sewing fig leaves together, hiding from the sound of the Lord walking in the garden.  They hid in fear, for they knew they had disobeyed God, and they knew the consequence of such disobedience: death.  They made loincloths to cover their shame, a shame they did not know up to that point.

Where did this sense of shame come from?  They were naked before and knew no shame.  God created them, male and female, and God called His creation good.  Why they are they ashamed of their bodies?  Was there some physical change that suddenly made them shameful?  Did the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil add 50 pounds, fast?  If that were the case, then all we would need to do to lose this shame is return to the ideal physical form, whatever that may be.  While I could stand to lose a few pounds, I don’t think that will take away my shame before God.  So what were they ashamed of?

Donald Barnhouse writes in his commentary on Genesis, “It was not skin nakedness that they discovered, but the nakedness of their dead souls… When sin came there was nothing left of righteousness and they were naked indeed.  We must not think of this as a change from blissful innocence of nakedness to a conscious knowledge of it, but from glory to nudity.”

Their shame came from the loss of glory, and while they had always been physically naked, now there was a spiritual nakedness, too.  This was not an embarrassment over a lack of clothing.  It came from deep within, from a fear of exposure, of being really seen, known as a sinner, a rebel from the ways of God.  I think this is a shame we all share.  We know our sins, they are ever before us.  While it would be humiliating to be exposed physically before others, to have my soul laid bare before God and man is truly terrifying.

D.A. Carson writes in The God who was There, “You cannot hide moral shame with fig leaves… You cannot undo the loss of innocence. It cannot be undone.  We cover ourselves in shame.  There is no way back to innocence.  In the Bible, there is only a way forward – to the cross.”

You see, even in the fall we have a glimpse of the Gospel.  God provides a cover for Adam and Eve’s sin and shame with garments of skin (Gen 3:21), presumably that of a lamb.  The first sacrifice for our sins was made by God.  And the final, perfect, sacrifice for our sins, to finally remove the guilt and shame, would also be made by God.

John tells us that in Christ, the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  That very thing which brings us shame, the flesh, the body, Christ took upon Himself so that He could take our shame away.  1 Peter 2 says, “He has borne our sins in His body upon the cross.”  Isaiah 53:4 says, “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrow.”  Every consequence of sin has been put upon Christ and has been answered in Him as well.  The debt has been paid.  Sin in has been atoned.  The dividing wall of hostility has been torn down.  The chains have been broken.  Death has been defeated.  Judgment has been satisfied.

He came in the flesh to take away our guilt and shame, not so that we can go back to being naked, but so that we could be further clothed in glory (2 Cor 3:18, 5:4).  The glory for which we were created, the glory we lost in sin, the glory whose absence is our shame, has been restored and magnified in our Savior Jesus Christ.  When we come to Him in faith, laying down the “fig-leaf” attempts at self-righteousness and trust in His perfect, complete, and eternal righteousness, then we will begin to know the freedom from guilt and shame deep in our souls.

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood;
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!


The Gospel According to Mephibosheth

“And David said to him, “do not fear, for I will show you kindness
for the sake of your father Jonathon… and you shall eat at my table always.”
(2 Sam 9:7)

One of my absolute favorite stories in the Old Testament is a one chapter side note about a guy name Mephibosheth.  We first read about this young man in chapter 4 of 2 Samuel, and his story begins with tragedy.  Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathon, the grandson of King Saul, a potential heir to the throne of Israel.  He was only 5 years old when Jonathon and Saul were killed in battle, and with their death “all of Israel was dismayed” and panic set in throughout the land.  Fearing that the only surviving heir to the throne would be targeted for assassination, Mephibosheth was carried off by his nurse, but she fell in her haste, and he became lame.

The story of Mephibosheth picks up again in 2 Samuel chapter 9.  The civil war within Israel had ended, and David was anointed as King.  Mephibosheth is hiding in a place called Lo-Debar, which literally means “nowhere”, about as far away from Jerusalem as he could get.  He was hiding, hoping to keep out of David’s reach – hoping never to be seen as a threat to the throne.

Amazingly, one of David’s first acts as King was to search for any survivors of Jonathon’s family, not to eliminate any potential threat, but to show kindness to him.  Ziba, a servant from the house of Saul was there, and he told David about Jonathon’s son, Mephibosheth, and was immediately sent out to bring him before King David.

Can you imagine what must have been going through Mephibosheth’s head when Ziba came to his door?  His family was gone, his claim to the throne lost., his life was forfeit to the king, and he was a cripple.  What could he offer, what claim could he make before the king that would possibly bring him salvation?  Imagine the uncertainty, the fear that would have coursed through his veins as he stumbled before the throne and knelt before this king.

I said before that this story is marked with tragedy; but it does not end in tragedy.  David shows kindness to Mephibosheth in the midst of his misery – David shows him grace.  David is gracious to Mephibosheth, not because of anything he has done, but because of David’s love for Jonathon.  David restores this broken, terrified man to everything he had lost.  All that belonged to Saul was restored to him, and he was given a permanent place at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons.

What a picture of grace.  You’d be hard-pressed to find another story in the Old Testament that so succinctly tells the gospel in such a beautiful way.

You see, I am Mephibosheth.  In my sin, I have fallen from grace, and I am broken, lame, and unable to stand before the Lord.  In my shame, I run from God, I hide myself from His gaze, I fear His judgment.

While I am far off from God, His Spirit comes to me, like the faithful servant Ziba, and brings me before His throne, and while I ought to be condemned, God shows me His undeserved kindness.  God shows me grace, not because of anything I have done, not because of any potential He sees in me, but because of His beloved, Jesus Christ, who has died in my place.  God credits to me the righteousness of another, He secures for me an everlasting inheritance, He sets me at His table as one of His sons.

This is the Gospel According to Mephibosheth.  Praise be to God for His amazing grace!