I recently listened to a preacher make an impassioned exhortation to his congregation saying nothing out of the ordinary. However, in his passion, he said something about Jesus’ death on the cross that stirred things in my mind and not in ways that are helpful. In the midst of it all he said that “Jesus lost control of His bodily functions while on the cross.” Let’s think about this for just a moment.
Why would a preacher state such a thing? The most probable answer is to underscore the suffering that Jesus endured on the cross and His complete loss of dignity. To be sure, everything about the cross was filthy, repulsive, and gross. Another reason might be to correct the sanitized version which is often depicted in works of art and film (however more recent films tend to accentuate the gore). Truth is always stranger than fiction and in this case a whole lot uglier. A third possible reason is to simply be shocking as if nailing a body to wood is not shocking on its own merits.
Whatever the reasons there is something troubling about these sort of statements when interjected into a sermon. They have no support in Scripture! Could this have happened? Well, sure, a lot could have happened but the Spirit of God decided that it was not necessary to know such details. Furthermore, such details add nothing to the meaning of the text nor do they clarify any background information to the scene. How we think about such things says a lot about our hermeneutic and whether we believe the meaning of the text is rooted in authorial intent or in our cleverness. Does stating that Jesus lost control of His bodily functions make Him appear more human? His cross more shocking? His death more real? If not, then how is this helpful?