Garments of True Splendor

“And the chief priests and the scribes stood there and made impassioned accusations against him.  And Herod, along with his soldiers, were showing him contempt and mockingly clothed him in shining garments and sent him back to Pilate.”

(Luke 23:10-11)

 

And the mocking continues as Jesus refuses to perform the feats that Herod had hoped to see. What is interesting is that Herod does not just have him sent home and put to death — certainly Herod had the blood of John the Baptist on his hands, why not Jesus also? With Pilate giving up jurisdiction, Herod could easily have sentenced the man to death, pleased the priests and perhaps even won him some favor amongst the Jerusalem elite. Herod opts not do to so, and returns Jesus to Herod. Of course, this is a fulfillment of prophesy that Jesus would be hanged on a tree, but from a human perspective, it is fascinating to me to see all of these puzzle pieces laid into place. Certainly Herod, by returning Jesus to Pilate, is no less guilty of Jesus’ death, but perhaps in his own mind he can wash his hands of the man just as Pilate would later do. Perhaps Herod has as much contempt for the priestly establishment as Pilate does and Herod sees this as a way to frustrate them even more as he sees them practically begging for this man’s death. This may be the reason that Luke makes the comment about Herod and Pilate’s friendship that develops over these things in the next verse. Politics often makes strange bed-fellows.

There is another aspect of these verses, that is often overlooked, and that is the garment that is placed on Jesus’ shoulders. Many of our translations will render this word as “an elegant robe” (NIV), “splendid clothing” (ESV), “a gorgeous robe” (KJV & NASB), etc… and perhaps brings to mind the remarkable garment that Joseph was given by his father in the Old Testament. The word that Luke uses here is lampro/ß (lampros), which is the root from which we get the English word, “lamp.” In Greek, we sometimes translate lampro/ß (lampros) as splendid or opulent, but most commonly the term reflects something that is full of light or sparkles. This is the term that is used of the angel that presented himself to Cornelius (Acts 10:30) as well as the angels that John describes in heaven (Revelation 15:6) and the heavenly garment given to the Church as the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:8).

It should be noted the radical difference between that which is glorious of heaven and that which is considered glorious on earth. There is simply no comparison. Once again, Jesus is made to bear the shame of fallen man — this time being arrayed in the best of human making when the best of heaven is that which he rightfully deserves. To take the analogy further, Jesus is clothed in the garments of men so that his bride may be brightly arrayed in the garments of heaven (as we see in Revelation 19:8). It is an exchange that Jesus was pleased to make, but it is an exchange that we do not deserve to receive. One more thought along those lines — the garments with which the bride is to be clothed are described as the “righteous deeds of the saints.” May we always remember that the origin of those deeds is not within us here on earth, but in heaven, for indeed, these works have been prepared for us from before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 2:10) and done not in our strength, but in the strength of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Jesus substitutes himself in our place to give us what we could never hope to give ourselves — why then do we so often pursue the splendor of this world when Christ himself offers us the splendor of heaven.

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2 Comments

  1. Stephen Nielsen

    Another great article. These garments of heaven that we will wear also reminded me of our breastplate of righteousness, talked about in Ephesians and in Isa–how even now, in this earthly state we can be protected if we know how to put on His righteousness. I have found personally when I set my mind to be pure, I feel stronger and protected from evil. So I think this breastplate is a very real thing and very practical for today. But still, I look forward to being clothed completely in His righteousness.
    I like your comment about the exchanged garments. His whole life was that.
    How are you doing? I am presently sick and out of work. It’s that time of year for contractors.

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Thanks, and yes, God gives us a breastplate — though it is His righteousness, not our own, that we wear (praise the Lord and thank-goodness!). I found a quote from Gurnall in his work, “The Christian in Complete Armor” which goes (and I am paraphrasing here) “We regularly feel pity for the poor wretch shivering in the streets because he is under-dressed, but we do not think twice about regularly entering the spiritual battlefield naked and unarmed.” Indeed, how carelessly we dress ourselves when we begin the day.

      I am doing well, thank you for asking. And I feel your pain in terms of the contracting thing; I spent 11 years installing carpet before I went into full-time ministry. The only difference is that our slow season went from January through March — especially when it was snowy. It was then that I focused on completing projects that I had begun.

      Blessings,

      w

      Like

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