I am wearing yoga pants, a t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops. When I go to ballgames I wear my team colors. When I go to church, I choose a nice dress and take time with my hair and makeup. When I work in the yard, my clothes protect me from the sun and poison vines. What we wear matters. The subject of why clothing makes a difference reminds me of a sermon by Live and Proclaim writer, Chris Jones:
Jesus wore our sin. On the first “Good Friday,” Jesus was beaten, then stripped, and hung naked in public while soldiers gambled for his clothing. God did not leave him that way. God wrapped Jesus in the stains of sin, exchanging our garbage, our guilt, for his righteousness. It cost him his blood, the only thing that can fix the problem of our sinful hearts.
In Jesus, God covers our sin. Mark 7 records an interesting exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day. The Pharisees and other teachers of the law want to know why Jesus and his disciples do not practice religious, ceremonial washing.
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them . . .” 19 (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) Mk. 7:14-15, 19b
With a parenthetical note, Mark helps interpret Jesus for us, helping us see that in Jesus a new era has dawned. Jesus fulfilled the cleanliness laws. This means our outward, religious efforts do not dress us in anything that saves. Jesus saves. Religion is me-centered and does not accomplish salvation. Jesus has accomplished, is accomplishing, and will accomplish salvation for us.
Jesus washes us and robes us in his righteousness. As the high priest did before the annual Day of Atonement, Jesus began to prepare for his sacrifice about a week beforehand. On the night before, he stayed awake and prayed. On Palm Sunday, the crowds cheered for him, but on Good Friday, they crucified him. As he hung on the cross, his Father forsook him. Why? Why would God allow this? Paul tells us the reason:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Cor. 5:21
Jesus washes us and robes us in his righteousness, so that we become part of the multitude of Revelation 19. For there, John records a vision of us—those who know Jesus—robed and ready, surrounding the throne of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” -Rev. 19:6-8
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
God wrapped Jesus in the stains of sin so that, as the church, his bride, we would be robed in fine linens of righteousness, dressed and ready to be guests at his table. There is a big day coming, the feast of all feasts, the celebration of all celebrations, provided by the Groom for his bride, a celebration of a relationship that will never end. And we are invited to the table. In fact, not only are we invited to the table, but we are invited to be significant guests at the table. Jesus has “Fine linen, bright and clean,” for you and for me.
How often do you think about Easter? Once a year during the very sacred Easter season, Christians remember the outrageous sacrifice of Christ that clothed him in sin so that we might be clothed in his righteousness. Yet, it is customary for the annual Easter “holiday” to come and then to go. We move on. Mother’s Day. Memorial Day. Fourth of July. Birthdays. But, celebrating the cross and resurrection should never stop or even wane or weaken. Every Christian heart surely overflows in continuous celebration of Jesus’ sacrifice anticipating our future and full union with him at his return. Are you dressed, ready, and waiting?