How Baldness Points to Christ
In my post last week, I made the claim that when God says in Leviticus 13:40, “Now if a man loses the hair of his head, he is bald; he is clean,” he is ultimately intending to point to Christ. This week, it’s time to back that up.
Let’s start by looking at Leviticus 13, which is one of the grossest passages in the Bible. If you are one of those people who has to watch shows about bug infestations or hoarding, then this is the section of the Bible for you. Here, God gave the nation of Israel all kinds of instructions on how to handle skin diseases. In each case, an infected person went before a priest to be declared either “clean” or “unclean.” If unclean, that person had to publicly announce that fact and then live outside of the community until the disease had healed (Lev. 13:45-46). The good news for many men is that male-pattern baldness does not render one unclean - no need to banish any dads or husbands.
It’s easy to joke about these things when we’re talking about baldness, but, of course, the issue of being unclean was no laughing matter. It meant bearing shame before everyone you knew. Can you imagine if every time you had some kind of skin problem, you had to tear your clothes and walk down the street crying out “Unclean!” so that no one would come near you? If you had to move, not only out of your house, but outside your town? The feeling of humiliation is hard to fathom.
Worse, this rejection did not ultimately come from your peers, but from God himself. In Leviticus 10, God says that things which are clean in his sight are holy. Clean things are honorable; unclean things are profane and shameful. Since God is holy (completely clean), only holy things may be in his presence. You see, since God dwelt in the tabernacle, being sent outside the camp also meant being separated from him and corporate worship of him.
Biblically defined, shame is the public exposure of failure or flaw and subsequent rejection, exclusion and scorn.
The laws about clean and unclean are intended to reveal the problem of shame. Biblically defined, shame is the public exposure of failure or flaw and subsequent rejection, exclusion and scorn. Shame, like guilt, is a result of sin, and so its origins can been observed in Adam and Eve. Pre-fall, they are naked and unashamed; post-fall, they know they are naked and hide in fear (Gen. 2:25; 3:8-10). Even disease, which is not a sin, is a flaw that keeps fallen people from drawing near to a perfectly flawless God. The laws about it are able to expose the problem, but they don’t solve it. How can people who bear shame come near to a holy God?
Enter Jesus. God incarnate. And what does he do? He goes outside the city to where the lepers dwell. And he talks to them. And he touches them. And he heals them and makes them clean (Mt. 8:1-4). And if you were a disciple of Jesus who knew the book of Leviticus, you would probably ask yourself, “What in the world is happening?” And what does he do next? He is arrested and crucified on a cross. On a cross. This was the most shameful form of punishment, not just in Roman culture, but in God’s eyes (Gal. 3:13). Jesus was stripped naked, spat upon, mocked, marched through the city and hung on a cross at eye level in front of crowds of people. He endured more shame on that day than any Israelite – or any other person – has ever endured. What in the world is happening?
What is happening is that Jesus, both God and man, is bearing the uncleanness, the shame, that sinful humanity – that we - incurred because of the fall. He is bearing it before people and before God. He was humiliated; he was rejected; he was separated from God. He is atoning, not only for guilt, but for shame. He did it for you and for me.
Do you know what this means? It means that, if you have placed your faith in Christ for salvation, then your shame has been completely removed. You have been declared clean – holy – and you can come into the presence of God as your Father and expect to receive a welcoming embrace. He wanted you near to him, and he made a way in Jesus. You never have to cry “Unclean!” again (Heb. 9-10).
Even better, God has honored you by dwelling in you by the Spirit (1 Pet. 4:14). Honor is the opposite of shame. It is the public declaration of value and subsequent acceptance, inclusion and exaltation. What could more clearly proclaim that you are honored in the sight of God than that he has chosen to live in you? You, along with other Christians, have become the tabernacle!
So does baldness point to Jesus? Absolutely. Even if baldness didn’t exclude you from the community of God, it is in the Bible because some skin and hair diseases did. The laws about them reveal the problem of shame, and they cry out for a solution. Jesus is the perfect cure.