Have you ever watched an Easter reenactment? Some people pride themselves on getting all the details right. They put the events in the right order, they say all the lines as they appear in the Bible, but they neglect to enforce one particular detail. Crucified criminals were stripped naked, something we never subject the actor playing Jesus to. But if we really want to be 100% accurate, that would be a detail to include!

I’m not advocating for nudity in Church passion plays or even in films, but I do hope to make a point. I think we neglect the immense indignity that Jesus requested from his followers. He was calling on the people whom he spoke to, well before his crucifixion, to suffer the shameful death of a criminal.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Mark 8:34

Long before televangelists and mega church pastors put on their gold cross tie pins over their silk designer ties. Long before cardinals held gilded crucifixes and sat on thrones in marble buildings to preach. Long before a king was ever crowned with a cross on the top of his regalia. Long before any authority was claimed under the cross, it was a mark of the authority of the Romans over the so-called son of God. It is only through Christ that the cross gains glory.

But one thing has not changed: to be Christian is to be undignified in the eyes of the world. We cannot hope for the approval of righteous heaven and of wicked men, we must carry the cross or deny Jesus. Only he can turn shame and death into glory and life.

Ethan Kirl