“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be’; this was to fulfill the Scripture: ‘They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.’ Therefore the soldiers did these things” (John 19:23-25a, NASB).
This makes me wonder what happened to the tunic (the inner layer of clothing). One of these Roman soldiers walked away with it. Did he actually wear it? Did he later become a Christian, and realize he was wearing the very garment formerly worn by his Savior?
This is pure speculation, of course. But a man named Lloyd C. Douglas wrote a famous novel based on similar speculation. It was called The Robe, and it was made into a movie in 1953. Richard Burton played the soldier who won the robe (as they called it). In the story, no one seemed to wear this garment; but it was revered as possibly having miraculous powers.
What really happened to the actual tunic or robe of Jesus does not really matter. But here’s another robe that DOES matter, as described by Isaiah the prophet: “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10a). Here Isaiah tells us about a Robe of Righteousness. He describes it as something God has given him. He says that God has wrapped him in it, and this is a source of great joy to him!
What is this Robe of Righteousness? It is a metaphor for the blood Jesus shed for all mankind on the cross. The picture is this: Jesus on the cross had been literally stripped of his own robe; but metaphorically, what he was doing there was weaving a new robe out of his own agony and suffering, out of his very blood. He was making such a robe for every human being who wants one!
Who has a “Robe of Righteousness” today? YOU DO, if you are a Christian! Every one who takes Jesus as Savior and Lord receives this robe in Christian baptism. If you are a faithful Christian, you are wearing this robe right now—and have been since your baptism.
But here is a significant difference between the tunic stolen from Jesus and the Robe of Righteousness given to us by God: Jesus’ tunic was an inner garment, usually hidden from view, while our Robe of Righteousness is an outer garment, made to cover up anything else we might be wearing. In fact, Jesus made this Robe for you for the very purpose of covering up the filthy garments of your own deeds, and thus to make you acceptable to God. As Isaiah 64:6 reminds us, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment”! (Note: even our righteous deeds are filthy rags, much less our sins!)
Nevertheless, you ARE accepted by God—not because of YOUR righteous living, which is not good enough, but because of the righteous deeds of Jesus Christ! All of our works, both good and bad, are covered by the righteousness of Christ!
As you partake of the loaf and cup today, do you think anybody cares what you are wearing? Probably no one else seated around you cares, but GOD cares! He cares not about your physical clothes, but about this spiritual garment woven by Jesus as he was dying on the cross. This Robe is what he is looking for; and if you are a Christian, you are wearing it this very moment! As you drink the cup of juice today, think: “This cup represents the blood of Jesus, and the blood of Jesus is the Robe of Righteousness given to me to cover my sins and hide them from God’s sight! Indeed, I will rejoice greatly in the Lord! Thank you, Lord!”
A hymn writer said it this way: “When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found! Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!”