The Clothes Off His Back

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes, dividing them among them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining.  This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“Let’s not tear it,”  they said to one another.  “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”  John 19:23, 24.

It’s an odd thing to see prophecy fulfilled in such a way.  I know David (who wrote it) spoke about himself and his own circumstances, but to see the soldiers actually take someone’s clothes as booty seems weird, and probably because we don’t have the same understanding of clothing as they did.  To have more than one set of clothes mean you had some wealth—even if it was just a little bit.  In a world where clothes are home made or tailored a seamless garment would be a prize.  Which begs the question:  Was Jesus as poor as everyone says He was?  May be not.  Just because His parent started out poor doesn’t mean they ended up so.

Still, a seamless garment speaks to me about quality.  My sense of humor (never far below the surface) nearly screams at me to mention that Jesus bought great underwear, which means we should too.  John does mention it for a reason, though not the cheap joke I had in mind, and it is this:  They took from Him everything of any value and left Him naked, bruised, bleeding, suffocating and dying a humiliating death, yet all they could think of was the quality of the underwear so as not to tear it.  John’s gospel has subtlety to it, so I wouldn’t put this past him.  Though Jesus was innocent of all the charges, save one, He certainly didn’t deserve a death like this, nor treatment of such callousness.

Without going all weirdly religious, this speaks to me loudly about why we need  a Savior more than almost anything else.  The crucified Him out of envy, beat Him unmercifully, though not to punish Him for anything He had done but to appease politics, then they mocked His claim to kingship, after which they nailed Him to a tree and gambled for His clothing.  Human nature stands out as doing what is convenient for the moment without seriously considering the long range consequences.

If anyone in that crowd had been confronted with the judgment threat before they went ahead with their plans, do you think they would have moved forward with them?

My answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The reason I’m so confident is that I see everyone do things they know they will pay for later, but the price in the short run seems worth.  The pastor who has an affair surely knows God well enough to understand the consequences of the judgment, but the pleasure of the moment.  That person embezzling money certainly knows what will happen if they get caught, but they continue.  I could go on and on about even the simplest of things we know—like eating too much or one drink too many before bedtime.

No, we are definitely not wise about our spiritual welfare.  We constantly gamble with our eternity as Christians.  I don’t know that all of us play the game of “Cheap Grace” condemned by Bonhoeffer, but I know we dance pretty near it.

Once the world took everything Jesus had of any value they mocked Him as a loser, metaphorically kicked Him while He was down, and generally showed the heart of darkness.  Those who loved Him had no earthly power to rescue Him since He had forbidden them to even try (remember Peter’s attempt with the sword?).

The nature of a person is shown for what it is when they are confronted by helplessness; when they have power over another human being.

And Jesus suffered at the hands of sinners for no other reason than human nature couldn’t stand up to itself.


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One Response to “The Clothes Off His Back”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    So many good points in this posts. Some scholars contend that the gifts from the wise men funded the ministry, but no one knows for sure. Human nature reads lowly, meek, mild, poor and assumes monetary lack.

    Paul says I know to do better and yet I do the things I know I’m not supposed to. That’s the struggle for us all crazy as it sounds.

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