IVP - Online Pulpit - July 2010 Archives

July 1, 2010

God the Seamstress

Recently, I gave a funeral message for a member of my congregation. She was well known as a seamstress par excellence, sewing innumerable wedding dresses. So in my funeral message I encouraged the family to use their memory of her work as a seamstress to be reminded of the gospel, which saved her and all those who are clothed in Christ’s garments of salvation.

After all, God does indeed know a bit about sewing and clothing. In fact, on that dark day when his perfect creation was sliced open by sin, God sewed his first outfits and gave them to Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness; something they had not been aware of before. Now they sensed their need for clothing, and their crude fig leaves were replaced with God’s garments.

Ever since, humans have had a sense of nakedness and the need to be clothed. This is a universal result of sin. Even people who live in the tropics, and seemingly have no need for clothing, wear something; without it they feel, well … naked.

God is a great seamstress, clothing his family. Clothing is a symbol of God’s salvation, which can be seen even in the great sin sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. On this most holy day of the Jewish calendar, the high priest took off his priestly garments and wore only a white linen tunic woven of one piece of fine fabric. Then he was allowed to meet with God in the holy of holies as he sprinkled the sacrificial blood on the ark.

You know, somebody else wore a white linen tunic. He too was a high priest, though unrecognized as one until his sacrifice was finally understood. The apostle John gives us the story:

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (Jn 19:23-24 NIV)

I have always wondered why Jesus wore something so fine the Roman soldiers did not want to rip it up. I like imagining Jesus as the funky itinerant teacher dressed in something from the Salvation Army. But under it all he wore a fine tunic of the sort the high priest wore into the holy of holies. In the case of Christ though, it was stripped from him that he might take our sin, shame and nakedness on the cross. We in turn are clothed in his righteousness. Only he could stand before God naked and unashamed. He became unclothed so that we could become clothed with the finest wedding garments.

In this life we still feel a bit naked and exposed. Death is one of the things that can do this. Death reminds us just how feeble and frail we are no matter what we might be wearing. We cannot dress up death. Our own sense of nakedness moves us to find the greatest seamstress, our Father, who gives us the festal garments of salvation.

God has created us for this very purpose, for this wedding feast. And it is with confidence that we look forward to this feast, for in Christ we will not be found naked but clothed in the white garments of righteousness.

Posted by Gerry Koning at 10:25 AM