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Easter Part 1: the tunic...

I have heard the "Easter Story" since I was a child. Between the yearly Easter "cantatas" at church, or movies like The Passion of the Christ, it all seemed to be the same story year after year...a tradition if you will. As a theology student, and not a true Jesus follower in 2003, I began studying the crucifixion and resurrection in depth when I came across a book by John MacArthur titled "The Murder of Jesus". It was all it took. I was hooked and dialed in on this event in history that I would study every Easter, and one that would forever change my life...and which had changed all of humanity.

This year, my study took me back to Exodus. Flowing from there throughout Leviticus and much of the Old Testament is the story of the high priests and what they wore - a seamless tunic (a chiton) and another garment, a robe (a himation), which was worn over the tunic, among many other things. When the priest would enter the holy place, "behind the veil", inside the camp, he would strip everything down until only this tunic (chiton) remained. Once accomplished, he made the sacrifices necessary (spoiling the white tunic with blood from the goats and rams that would have to be sacrificed to make atonement for the peoples sins), then remove the tunic once he left. It was a holy garment worn for a holy sacrifice...

The story continues in John 13:4. Jesus was preparing to wash His disciples feet and in one act of humility and love, He laid aside his himation (outer robe), where only his tunic remained, so he could prepare his disciples to be robed in righteousness.

And He would do it again. But this time, it would be at the cross. "When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, a part for each soldier. They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who gets it." John 19:23-24a

Jesus had been sentenced to die, nailed on a cross, and was now breathing his last breaths - and Roman soldiers were at His feet. They were dividing up his garments, his outer robe most likely, his himation, as was a typical move of the soldiers who were assigned to stand guard. Then they came across His tunic (his chiton). Seamless. Woven in one piece from the top. A valuable garment that they knew was better undivided...casting lots for it. Unbeknownst to them was the Savior of the world, their Creator, the High Priest, yet, here they were vying after the things the world had to offer and not the soul. They seemingly knew nothing of scripture or chose to believe He was indeed the Messiah. My heart burns with compassion for them...maybe because I too was once very much like those soldiers. And I still am at times...messing about with the things of the world, when my Savior is right in front of me, laying aside his robe...beckoning me to be clothed in His righteousness...pure atonement.

The crux of the story, the incredible beauty of the story, is that one day soon He will ride on His white horse, once again in a robe. But this time He will wear His robe (himation) over the tunic (chiton) and not remove it. It will be stained with blood, as the victor, trampling his enemies and gathering those He knows by name...and this time, His name will be written on His robe for all to see...KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:13).

"I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness." Isaiah 61:10


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