What Have You Done with Jesus' Clothes?
“And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.”—Mark 15:24
The Roman soldiers at the foot of the cross of Calvary, shook dice to see which was the lucky man to win the different garments of the crucified Christ. You must remember that God has garments, that God has clothed Himself as with a garment. To God the sun is a sparkling gem upon His finger, the stars are wonderful pearls about His neck, the Earth covered with its vegetation and water is but the garment that God slips over His majesty and His sovereignty, a living exhibit of His power, His might, His glory. His attention to minute details is revealed in the composition of the Earth, and as men study, they begin to realize the great things God can do. We judge men by the clothes they wear; why do we not judge God by the clothes He wears?
God shows Himself to every creature in His garments, and every man should stand in awe of the majesty of God when he sees Him don His Spring dress, when he sees the rocks piled into majestic mountains, the great glaciers caught in the teeth of the boulders, the towering snow peaks above the wooded hills. Oh that the Holy Spirit might impress upon your mind some sense of the majesty of God, His ability to work, His mighty power that takes dirt, and seeds and sunshine and the little water stored beneath the soil, and out of them brings wonderful blossoming roses.
I can still catch the scent of the cliffs of Wyoming where I used to climb in my boyhood days. There I would lie on my stomach looking out over the flat prairie land below, where the cattle wandered by the thousand. Suddenly I would become conscious of a wonderful fragrance—only those who have caught the perfume of it can appreciate its rarity. Little rain-holes had been worn in the cliff, tiny basins no larger than a pair of men’s hands, and the wind—spent after tearing and ripping in a rain-storm, had blown some dirt and some moisture into the crevice, and a tiny seed from yonder hillside or the nearby valley, and there, far above the prairie, touched by the finger of God, it had taken root and brought forth a wild sweetpea. Wrapped up in that little seed were all the possibilities, and out of the damp rock, out of the dirt, out of the sunshine God was able to produce that delightful fragrance.
Oh the beauty of the garments of God, the beautiful brook dashing down the hillside, fed by a tiny spring up in the mountain, or born in the melting snows of the distant peaks, kissed by the summer sun, growing into a picturesque river, becoming at last a roaring torrent as it pours its floods into the ocean. Oh the grandeur of the ocean waves tossed into foaming mountain-high billows by the stormy wind! How mighty the tide—the pull and ebb of the moon as it draws that great ocean up in its hands and then releases it, as man may, by means of a vacuum, pull water from a basin into a glass and then release it. The moon, by the power of God, brings up the tide, backing the water into the rivers, then drawing it out, washing the shores, refreshing them with the salt water. I call your attention to the fact that it is not soft water, but salt water that kills debris of all kinds, absorbing the sewage and offal of the world, emptied into it through the great tributaries in the sewage system of God, buried in the depths of the ocean, cleansed by its salt waves.
Look at God’s lace as the flakes fly through the air, each a separate crystal. Watch your breath crystallize on the window pane until it sparkles and glistens into a lacy Jack Frost design which cannot be duplicated by human skill. It is all a part of the garment God has woven.
Remember that out of dirt God makes the tall tamaracks, the pines, the great oaks that from little acorns grow, the timber that is turned into homes and furniture. The silver, gold, iron, copper—those tough metals which alone make traffic and extensive travel possible, through the erection of powerful machinery, are hidden away in the earth by God: the cotton from which our clothes are made comes through a mysterious growth out of dirt; while our warm wool clothing is made possible through a sheep eating grass and drinking water.
The Scripture says of the Lord Jesus Christ, “All things were created by Him, and for Him, …and by Him all things consist (hold together).” They are all knit together into the thing that pleases Him, they all form the garments of the Christ who was crucified on Calvary.
The electricity that shoots from the cloud, followed by the rip of the thunder, caused by the division of the air by this strange force which can separate its very particles, causing the awful reverberation as they come together again in space, is the rustle of the garments of the Son of God, that Son who was born in a manger, who walked in a body like ours.
He wore over all His clothing a garment woven without seam. It was not made of several pieces, but was woven without a seam. Over all the Earth God has put a garment, an atmosphere without a seam. There is no air in New York different from that of Chicago, the sunny South has the same air blanket as the frigid North; from east to west, from north to south, it is all one magnificent space in the hands of the eternal Christ.
You are here beneath the stars, beneath this garment of His, while He has been crucified and turned out of His Earth. He has gone back yonder into the Glory, and has left His garments behind. I ask you “What have you done with the clothes of Jesus?”
The world has sat down and gambled. Men have sat in their offices and built their commercial and exchange systems, gambling for the garments of Jesus. Men have gathered much wealth, and then turned their heads to the wall and died, leaving behind that which they thought they could keep, but had to let go. They owned the cattle on a thousand hills, but had to leave them all behind; they had money in the bank, but could not take it with them; they owned extensive lands, but left them all behind. They shook dice, took their chances in life, gambled for the garments of God, for His fields. They owned lots, houses, carriages, they gathered to themselves possessions, but inevitably, they had to turn their heads to the wall and die.
The Roman soldiers gambled for the garments of Jesus, but they could not keep them. You get up in the morning, and when you have made your living you think you have lived, but ah, beloved, all you ever work for perishes; all you ever own you have to relinquish to the one who owns it all after your life is over. Men have put Christ aside; the nations of the Earth have fought and bled and died over border lines, fought for scepters, for power, for diplomatic distinction in the world, have talked of patriotism, have done their level best and shed their blood that they might own a little more of the garments of God, and when it is all over they have passed away and their nations have gone down.
Rome, with all her glory is gone; Greece, with all her architecture and magnificent art is in the dust; Babylon with all her idols and hanging gardens is the habitation of bats,
“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
“Await alike the inevitable hour,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
The garments are here; there is no less grain raised, but profiteers buy it up. There is no less of this or more of the other. It is all here, the gold, the silver. Men have thought it was theirs, but they left their millions and entered into eternity as poor as any other man. There was once a great railroad king who had a godly wife, all the time asking him to give. Out of his great millions she was only able to give a small percentage to missions and the salvation of souls. He kept the money away from her and gave it to other things. But in the last hour of his life, when they told him he could not live, he said to the wife who was nursing him, “Darling—that hymn-book that you use, go and get it.” She went to her little sewing table and pulled it out. “Sit by my side, hold my hand, tell me the Gospel and sing that old song,
‘Come ye sinners poor and needy,
Weak and hungry, sick and sore.’”
He was a poor sinner, for though he had gambled for the garments and had gathered many into his corner, yet he had nothing, NOTHING, NOTHING! And if you die without this Christ, you will die in your sin and have nothing.
I pause for a moment, that the Spirit of God might impress upon you somehow that without Him you will die with nothing. “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Men have grabbed the things of God as if they were their own permanent possessions, but God has instituted death, and man’s grip has to relax when the rattle comes in his throat. But O, I am so glad that I know I am not dependent upon the garment or upon anything that is here, for life, but that I have it in Christ Jesus Himself.
A Seamless Plan for Atonement
Just as the robe of Jesus was without a seam, so His truth is without seam. He is the Son of God, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. God did not come along up to a certain place and then change His mind and start something new by letting Christ come into the world’ but the salvation provided in the Lamb of God before the foundation of the world is the same salvation God preached to Abel. Abel died because he believed in salvation by blood, that sin was put away by the death of something, and that something was a type of the Son of God who was to come in due time, to be revealed as a man, and to die for the sins of the world as a lamb dies.
Later the Jews were taught to sacrifice a lamb, one without blemish or spot, a year old. They kept it a while and looked it over to see that there was nothing wrong with it whatsoever, and then slew it and shed its blood, a type of the blood of Jesus Christ that did the actual work of cleansing.
When Adam and Eve sinned God took their fig-leaves from them, killed an animal and clothed them with coats of skin (the symbol of shed blood). God said, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” It was to be the seed of the woman. Wherever “seed” is mentioned in the Word in other places it is always the seed of a man, but Jesus is the only one spoken of as the seed of a woman. Jesus was without an earthly father. God was His father, and He was God. God had planned a method by which sin could be put out of the way. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for sin, death being the punishment of sin, “The wages of sin is death,” and He took that death. If you accept His death as atoning for your sin, if you accept Him as your personal Saviour, your sin will be put away, “For without the shedding of blood is no remission.”
Blood Offering Accepted
Abel came to the sacrifice with a slain lamb, the firstling of the flock. He offered it before God and it was accepted by God. In all probability an angel attended him and the knowledge was given him that he was accepted of God or else the fire fell from God. Cain brought a fine exhibit of what he himself could do by his own production, brought the finest of the wheat, the best he could produce, his own best efforts; but God refused his offerings, the angel had no word of approval, and the power was not around him. God spoke in this way: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, a sin offering lieth at the door.” All Cain had to do was to pick it up. In all probability there was a lamb there that could have been picked up and slain; but Cain refused absolutely the Gospel.
There are hundreds of thousands in the class with Cain. They want to be accepted by God because of their own character, their own best works. You say, “I think I am a pretty good man, and I think I will pull through all right and get into heaven.” You never will, for you are a sinner, and sin must be atoned for, must be dealt with by blood.
If a man commits murder in the city of Chicago, you do not think for a moment the government of Chicago and of Illinois will say “He is a pretty good man. We will let him off,” do you? Government, if it is government, sees to it that sin is dealt with. God cannot smear it over nor let it go by. God has a method of handling all your sin and the sin of the whole world, and that is by letting His own Son die for it; and if you will take it, He will give you His life as a gift. The spilt blood of the holy Son of God is the only propitiation for sin.
The First Murder
The first murder was committed over the Gospel. Cain was angry because Abel was accepted. Men have always been mad at the men and women who believed that simply by believing that Christ died on the cross for them, and accepting Him as their Saviour, they could be saved, while another good man across the street who would not offer a blood sacrifice, would not take Christ as His Saviour, would be lost.
If Jesus Christ had come as a great king and done a spectacular work, the whole world would have bowed down to Him; but in meekness, in lowliness as the poor lamb of God from the despised Nazareth, He came with an ignorant group of men around Him, He stilled the tempest, fed the multitude and showed that He was God. They did not want that; they wanted the spectacular thing. Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, he ye will received.” The devil is a spectacular one, but Jesus is meek and lowly, and if you ever confess Him you will have to be meek and lowly, willing to be misunderstood by the world for accepting cleansing of sin by His blood.
No doubt Cain argued with Abel, “I am as good as you are, and yet you are shouting and happy because the angel accepted your sacrifice. Mine is as good as yours. I can beat you working. I plowed and harrowed and planted the seed, and you didn’t do a thing but pick up that lamb out of your flock, slay it and offer it to God.”
Abel probably looked into his face and said, “Hallelujah, I know I’m saved. My dear Cain, don’t you know we are saved not by our efforts, but it is God who cleanses? God told me to do this, and this is all I can do, and I have done it, and am justified.”
“You make me mad, Abel. What right have you to be clean by doing nothing, when I have worked so hard and am not clean?”
That is just the division running through the race now. Some want to be clean by their own works, while the humble ones have said, “Lord, I’m a sinner, but I take the precious blood to cleanse me from sin.” Abel did that, and Cain was so angry he strove against him and killed Abel.
Cain came with the same old “I am right” spirit, into the presence of God with his face up, like some who listen to the Gospel, saying, “Preach that blood if you want to, but it don’t have any effect on me.” God said to him, “Where is your brother?”
“Brother?” Cain evaded. “Am I my brother’s keeper? Hasn’t he got a head? Can’t he take care of himself? What have I got to do with that?”
Why Justify Self?
Every man outside of Jesus Christ is constantly justifying himself, for the sin in his heart. If Cain had been the right kind of a man he would have said, “Thank God, Abel, I’m not clean and I know it, and will try your way.” When you know there is a crowd of people blood-washed and shouting happy, why don’t you come in the way they did, accept the evidence before you and stop arguing? Why was Cain fighting? He knew Abel had something he did not have. If he had felt all right about it he would have shut his mouth and let Abel alone. There is a simple, humble way of taking the blood of the slain lamb of God, blood, BLOOD, BLOOD, the same method through all the centuries, given by God. In spite of all the teaching of the universities, the highbrows, the scientists, there isn’t anything that cleanses from sin but the blood of Jesus Christ. I have heard their arguments, but you do not hear any of them standing up with their theories and saying, “Hallelujah, I’m clean.” They will say, “We are L.L.D., X.Y.Z.’s,” and try to justify themselves with their diplomas and add, “We understand from a psychological viewpoint what that crowd is talking about.” If they know, why do they not get cleansing? There never was a man with a testimony who did not get it by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Cain was a good bluffer, but God said to him, “Cain, your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
When Jesus Christ makes a blanket that is woven without seam He does it to cover the devil’s blanket—the universal sin question. Among the Hottentots in Africa, the natives of China, India, Europe, the Esquimaux—wherever the human race goes, they are sinners and know it—not because they have been taught about it, they have that consciousness.
Wherever you find soldiers gathered in war, vermin has followed. They have tried every way to get rid of cooties, but they are there, a poor illustration of the fact that wherever you find a man or a woman on the face of this Earth you will find an awful consciousness of sin, and of inability to throw it off or ease it. Everything has been done, —fetishes and ceremonies instituted, ritualisms, forms, Church ceremonies, philosophies, isms of every kind all growing out of Cain’s statement, but they all have to turn their heads to the wall at last, and die in the darkness unless they have found this garment that covers sin. “Where sin did abound grace did much more abound.” Christ was the Garment that stretched from the uttermost to the uttermost, far enough to take in every man or woman who would accept God’s provision, this precious blood to put away sin. This garment covers us so that we appear to God as if we had never sinned. His Son died for us, that we might be forgiven.
There is no limit to the cleansing power of that blood, no seam in that blood garment that flowed out from God, no sin that that blood cannot cover. Bigger than the oceans of Earth, it can overflow all your past and hide it from the face of God, bury it in the bottom of the sea, put it behind the back of God. Under the shelter of this garment the judgment of God does not strike.
On the great judgment day after the thousand years of Christ’s reign on Earth, the dead, small and great, at the sound of the trumpet of God, will come out of their graves, the ocean will give up its dead, and they shall stand before the throne of God for judgment. Then if you have refused the blood, you have refused the only thing that can shield you.
The garments for which the soldiers gambled faded away, wore out. These earthly garments of Christ will wither away, the clouds will vanish, the Earth may be wrapped up like a scroll, the sun be darkened; but Oh, the garments of the righteousness of God, the life in Christ Jesus, are eternal, and will never perish. “No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” God, who swung the suns, has swung us out into eternal life in Christ through this death on the Cross, in this Resurrection, and all we have to do is to accept His Son’s death for ours, accept the garment of life that is in Christ Jesus.
Look at the garments He offers. First, there is a beautiful necklace to wear around that troubled throat, near that troubled heart,—the necklace of peace, peace that flows like a river.
“Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love!”
Thank God for the hour I entered into peace and put that necklace around my neck. My poor old heart uneasy, walking up and down and finding no place for the sole of my feet, no rest for my intellect, searching, studying, trying to find, never satisfied with any book I ever read, never satisfied with argument or philosophy. Watch those who are out for pleasure. They are never satisfied. The pleasure of last night will not do for tonight, they must have a new show, some new booze, a new opiate. No peace! But, oh, when you find Jesus it is settled, the struggle is over, and you are at peace. “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” He says. Jesus is here to satisfy you.
He steadies you, grounds you, makes you stick when the storms beat around.
Stephen, how can you stand those men cursing you and gnashing with their teeth? Why, Stephen! You are not even shaking, you are praying. What are you saying? “Father, lay not this sin to their charge.”
Where do you find peace like that? In what college? In what philosophy? I have seen many men slain on the Western prairies alongside of a telephone pole or a tree, or tied to a fence pole across a couple of extended bars. I have seen them walk out without a word, but will never be able to tell what I felt they were feeling. I never saw a man so strong that he wanted to look at their faces. He took a glance and then looked down. You are going to be compelled to be at a hanging at the court of Christ some day. A man may have been a stoic who had made up his mind to go through, but he had no peace. I have seen other men die who had peace, and could not be scared.
Thank God, I died with Him on Calvary, and I have no fear of death, it would be lovely to die, for I would see Him face to face the minute the breath went out of my body. I do not know where the fear went, but the fear of death is absolutely taken out of my heart.
Will you put on that garment and take off that nettling thing filled with cockle burrs scratching and itching,—the little vexations of life that torment you? God help you to put on the peace that passeth understanding. God offers it to you now, Jesus can give you peace, perfect peace. I can roll over on my pillow tonight with a shout in my heart, and if I never wake up again, Glory to God it is all right, there is nothing between Jesus and me. I have as many cares as you have, but O, thank God, I have someone else to carry them—He carries the burden, saying, “Take my yoke upon you.”
His peace is ready for you, you do not have to make it or struggle for it,—He gives it to you if you will take it and put it on. O, why should you go on with sin in your heart, with a cold heart, when you could have a warm heart? Jesus Christ makes a lovely warm garment. It is cold outside, and in your little thin clothes you will shiver; but with the warm garment of Jesus wrapped around the heart of a man, with His cheek close up to yours, your heart keeps hot and throbbing with the love of Jesus.
What are you doing with that garment that is warm, the enveloping of His arm, His love that hugs you up close to Himself? Has the world slipped in between? Has pride, temper, selfishness cheated you out of this glorious fellowship with Him? O, throw yourself at His feet and let Him put it out of the way.
I look at Paul on the dump heap at Lystra; look at him in the boat going up and down, a prisoner, despised for Jesus’ sake. They stick him in jail with his poor feet in the stocks, his back bleeding where they have beaten him, his face scratched where someone has struck him, and I say to the jailer, “Let me go in and see that poor, discouraged fellow.”
“Listen!” bids the jailer. From the prison comes the notes of a song. I see Paul look at Silas, with tears running down his face, “Bless the Lord.”
Where did they get that peace? From this glorious Lord Jesus who is God, who loves you and loves me. There is a hunger in His heart to know you, does not your heart cry out for Him?
They parted His garments among them. O, but friends, we must not do that. The world parts the material garments, but what God asks us to do is to take them all as a gift.
His love, His patience, His meekness, His joy. “My joy I give unto you: Not as the world giveth give I unto you.” The world’s joy will run out, but this joy that He gives will be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Because He is alive from the dead and has forgiven me, and redeemed me I am a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. He has provided His garments for me as my inheritance. He left His garments for you and said, “My joy I give unto you,—My peace, My strength, My ability, My salvation.” He gives you armor to wear—the helmet of salvation for your head, the breastplate of righteousness for your heart, the shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace for your feet, the shield of faith for your arm—that shield that is able to quench all the fiery darts of the devil. He will dress you in His salvation and give you the sword of the Spirit with which to fight away every devil, making you more than conqueror through Christ Jesus.
Oh, I ask you to put on the garments of Christ. I ask you to dare by faith to take these glorious garments, and let us dress up and go out and show the world what He can give. We cannot live against this awful tide of iniquity undressed. Let’s all clean up,—clean up in His blood. Let’s all dress up,—dress up in Jesus’ clothes. Say,—what have you done with Jesus’ clothes, gambled them or put them on?