To me, reading about the Crucifixion of Christ is always an interesting experience. I say interesting because there is really no other word to perfectly encapsulate this feeling of extremes being pulled together. As Christians, perhaps the two greatest things we realize about the Crucifixion is that our salvation was secured and that our Savior was slaughtered. The overwhelming joy and sorrow implied in these respective truths make every revisiting of Golgotha an extremely bittersweet moment for me, as I’m sure it does for many others.
In examining the gospel accounts of the Crucifixion, however, there has always been one detail that seemed somewhat out of place to me. Of course, we understand that several prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled by Christ on the Cross. However, only one of these is specifically mentioned in three of the four gospel accounts of Jesus’s death. This has to do with the prophecy found in Psalm 22:18, which, as part of the psalmist’s description of the Crucifixion scene, says, “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” In the accounts of the gospel written by Matthew, Mark, and John, it is stated that the soldiers who participated in Christ’s murder fulfilled this very statement as they cast lots to divide the garments Jesus had been wearing; Matthew and John specifically point to this verse as a point of clarification (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, John 19:23-24). The inclusion of this detail stood out to me because of its triviality at first glance. Why, of all things, is this the one prophecy that three of the four writers of the gospel choose to specifically reference during such a monumental occasion? This is a question that I have asked myself many times over the years, often during my reading of these accounts during the Lord’s Supper, and a question that I felt I had no answer to. Just recently, however, I found an amazing answer to this puzzle in the most unlikely of places: the Book of Revelation.
Revelation is an interesting Book in many ways. Maybe the most accurate way to describe the Book as a whole is as the “big reveal” at the end. (Think “Fixer Upper.”) This is the prophetic account of the Holy Trinity revealing themselves to the world through judgment and salvation, and it is an interesting and, arguably, more direct look at the Persons of the Godhead from a new perspective. This “reveal” begins very early on, as John includes in chapter 1 a description of the Lord Jesus as His revelation begins. This is a description many of us are familiar with; the eyes like a flame of fire, the feet of brass, and the voice of many waters are details that many of us recognize quickly (Revelation 1:14-15). The first detail of this description, though, is one that is often overlooked and is possibly the most significant of all. In verse 13, John describes the Lord as being, “clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.”
This part of the “big reveal” of Christ to begin His revelation is why, I think, the detail of the divided garments is so important. In the hour of His greatest trial and sacrifice, the garments of Jesus were divided. Now, however, He is clothed with the greatest of garments, a single piece that cannot and will not be divided. Why? This may be a further look into the text on my part, but in Colossians 3:14, Paul tells the brethren to, “put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” In providing the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Himself presented us with the ultimate display of love (John 15:13), a love that has now repaired His garment and binds it in unity as He sits beside the Father as our Advocate and Savior.
In the sacrifice and revelation of Christ, God has shown us many things. He has demonstrated His desire for all of us to love sacrificially, as His Son has. He has warned us about the damage that selfishness can do, especially to things as precious as the ones He has blessed us with. He has proven to us the importance of unity, as we cannot hope to follow after Christ if we continue to divide what He has offered us. However, in this instance, His message of revival and redemption is raised above all. In Isaiah 1:18, God makes an offer to His people caught up in sin: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’” If that promise wasn’t enough, He proved it by repairing the garments of Christ, destroyed by the sins of the world He came to save. If we choose to come to Him in obedient faith, He will keep His promises, and our garment will be rewoven by the love of our Father.
“For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up in life.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:4