Every Easter, along with other moms, I fretted and shopped to find just the right clothes for my two sons to wear — until, of course, they got old enough to choose their own clothes, and eventually outgrew the very idea of wanting to dress up for Easter. Still, every year around this time, I dream of a new spring wardrobe.
Clothes are a necessity — and they carry symbolism throughout the Bible as well — starting with Adam and Eve wearing clothing given to them by God himself (Genesis 3). Moving through the Old Testament, we find in Leviticus and Deuteronomy fascinating accounts of the detail God commanded in His instructions for the robes the priests would wear, to the tiniest detail.
And, of course, we think of the story of Joseph and the specially-colored robe his father made for him, which became a source of contention with his brothers (Genesis 37). The colorful coat was a symbol to the brothers of Joseph’s preference in his father’s eyes.
In the New Testament, Jesus spoke to this topic also, when He said, “And why are you anxious about clothing? … But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30, ESV). Jesus also told the parable of the man who came to the wedding without the proper clothing (Matthew 22).
But today, let’s focus on the garments of Easter — the ones Jesus wore. Matthew 27 (ESV) tells us that the soldiers stripped Jesus of his own clothes, giving Him a scarlet robe instead — mocking the fact that Jesus claimed to be King of the Jews. And at the Cross, those same soldiers crucified Jesus, and in almost the same breath, gambled over who would receive His clothing.
So, what is the significance of that for us today? We know Jesus died to take our place on the cross, so that our sins could be removed, and we could live with Him forever. The prophet Isaiah referred to this process with imagery of clothing:
“for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10, ESV).
The clothing is only a symbol of the transfer that takes place. We were sinners; He is righteous, but in His dying on the cross — we switch places. He became sin; we become righteous. “For our sake, God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21. All our sin is forgiven! This exchange becomes the miracle of Easter.
In an incredible moment of swapping places, Jesus and I exchange robes — and I receive a brand-new garment — one I can wear for eternity.