The Tenth Station of the Cross: Jesus Is Stripped of His Clothing

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Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Clothing 

+We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

     Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

“Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me. As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death. Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat; they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots.”   Psalm 22:15-19

“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,’ in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]: ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.’ This is what the soldiers did.”   John 19:23-24

     By stripping Jesus of His clothes, the soldiers expose Him to the crowd in a final humiliation before crucifying Him. Jesus now has nothing left but His very life, and He will soon offer that up to the Father for the sake of sinful humanity.

     How often do we feel exposed? How often does our lack of control over our circumstances creep to the surface, for all to see? When this happens, we feel naked. Our vulnerability is not something we want others to see. We would rather pretend it doesn’t exist, that we’re whole and put together and in control. Wouldn’t it be nice if reality never challenged our image of ourselves?

     Just as with suffering, exposure is not something we mere mortals can escape. It is as much a part of life as breathing. And, like suffering, while it cannot be avoided, it can be redeemed. The experience of exposure preps my mind, and my soul, for a more balanced sense of myself. It can hurt, but that pain is for growth. Again, as with suffering, we can unite that pain with the pain Jesus felt on His way of the cross.

     Jesus gave all, even the shirt off His back. His clothes were taken from Him and divided among those who beat Him, tortured Him, and would take the last breath from His body. Having so little respect for Jesus that they were enthusiastic in their tearing apart His body, they nevertheless appreciated the workmanship of His tunic, so much so that they could not bring themselves to tear it apart. The dignity of Jesus’ person was of less value to them than the beauty and utility of His tunic.

     How this reflects the priorities of our own culture! We prize material possessions, but have so little respect for the human person. We place more value on the clothes we wear on our backs than on the people we meet each day. How silly, even stupid, to place such value on these things! The lilies of the field are more finely arrayed than the best dressed among us.

     Jesus gave everything for us. What can we give for Him? What are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of others, uniting our sacrifices to that of Jesus for the sake of our fellows? Lent is a time of sacrifice. Sacrifice is never for it’s own sake, but for the sake of others. In giving of ourselves, we are promised a share in the glory of the Kingdom.

Father, Jesus gave everything, holding nothing back – not His clothes, not His dignity, not His life. He stood naked before the crowd, exposed in all His humanity. How I hate being exposed! How I hate it when others see my vulnerability. But, by Your grace, I am willing to be exposed, to give all I have, for the sake of being united with Jesus and for the promise of eternal glory. Amen.

Be Christ for all.  Bring Christ to all.  See Christ in all.

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