#Jesustoo for #Metoo
By: Christina Edmondson
He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." -Job 1:21
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. -Luke 2:7
On Day 10 of the Truth’s Table Advent Devotional, Ekemini reminded us of the solidaric infancy of Christ. That the Creator would condescend to become like one of the created is hard to grasp. We, who too often long to be our own ruler, struggle to see how servanthood, meekness, and lowliness is the way to exaltation. If we are in charge, we think we can define right and wrong for ourselves and ensure that we are never hurt. Foolishly, we think to be our own god is to be indestructible, but the true and guiltless Savior submitted His body to destruction for us. We attempt to cover ourselves with an armor so impenetrable that grace struggles to enter in and extend to others. Counterintuitive is the way of the Babe in the manger and the Savior at the cross. Christ, fully human, chose to enter this world like us: naked, bloody through the post-Fall pains of childbirth and in need of care. The baby Jesus’ small naked body was quickly covered by a mother who He would cover with His own righteousness. What a powerful portrait of mercy! He chose to begin the journey knowing in His fully divine self how this would end at the cross. He chose this path to make sinners His siblings and co-heirs.
There is something about nakedness, not simply the nudity of our birthday suit, that produces shame, fear and a drive to hide. At Eden, when sin entered the world, nudity became nakedness and our impulse was to hide, deny, victimize to avoid being a victim and create our own systems to work our way back to God’s grace.
Jesus entered this world as a naked baby boy, but He would depart in death a naked, exposed and bloody man upon a tree. Men were often stripped bare during crucifixion to intensify the public shaming. For spectators and soldiers to look upon the frontal nakedness of the crucified resulted in an additional layer of humiliation. Westerners struggle to sit with and appreciate the collective shame of that moment. Jesus’ clothes were distributed like trophies, and His lifeless body, like his newborn body, was covered by a caring woman in the end.
Survivors of sexual abuse, harassment and assault persist through moments of shame employing a host of coping skills from denial to confrontation. The #MeToo movement is a reminder of the long history of post-Fall abuse endured by women. Men manifest the fruit of the curse by seeking to rule over women, and the Lamechs of this world gain positions, power and resources that fuel the legacy of victimization.
Christ submitted His nakedness to the world so that you might wear a robe of righteousness, Blessed one. At birth, He enters with great vulnerability, and at the cross He bears the weight of sin and shame. This shame includes the reeling effects of abuse. While you and I might be tempted, like some of the disciples, to run and look away from the crucifixion, some women did stay.
So, sisters, don’t look away . . .
Jesus knows what it means to have His clothes ripped from His body.
Jesus knows what it means to have His naked, bruised and vulnerable body on display. Jesus knows what it means to have folks run from and ignore His suffering at the Cross.
Jesus knows what it means to have people deny completely His experience.
Jesus knows what it means to die a cruel death and to rely on the help of others to remove His exposed, lifeless body.
Jesus knows more than we dare to imagine. Jesus knows all about you, and His love endures.
Theologically speaking, so much happens at both the birth of Christ and at the cross. However, we often skip over how God works victory for the #MeToo believer. Jesus redeems every tear and bit of shame at the cross. God even expresses the multifaceted reversal of the curse by using women mightily in His redemptive plan and bestowing the honor of caregiving for Jesus from the manger to the tomb. Woman goes from the deceived Eve in the garden to the first witness of the resurrected Christ. Grace is provocative and redemption is shocking!
In my mind and heart, I hold dozens of stories of sexual abuse in my head as recounted by the children, women and men that I served in counseling. I have had few greater privileges than to hear these stories. It is an honor to hear someone’s story of suffering, and Jesus again chooses to allow us to see Him in His humiliation through the details of scripture. Christ the Victor, who within His divinity is impassable, fully puts on humanity to live and die for His people. The soon returning King bears shame at the cross and will return with perfect justice on His mind. Remember, #Jesustoo has even conquered #MeToo.
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful?
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Lord, You really do know. There is no friend like You. You were born sinless but with a burden that went all the way to the cross to bear sins, shame and grief. Help us to trust You with our #MeToo stories. I will not turn away from all that You endured at the cross. I will not deny that You bore my sin and shame. Help us to search our own hearts for the ways that we have victimized others directly, through disbelief and enablement of abusers. Put repentance in our hearts, pockets, words and hands. Forgive us, heal us and please come quickly. Amen
Song of Meditation:
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” Aretha Franklin
Questions for Reflection
Is the cross the standard that I use to measure God’s love for me or the painful circumstances of my life?
What prevents me from sharing my “MeToo” stories with Jesus?
What does it mean that Jesus takes away my shame at the cross?