Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 21 2013 - Luke 20:27-47 – Impressive robes

When I was at secondary school (many years ago), every morning began with an assembly. The boys (yes, we were all boys), would be assembled in the hall waiting for the ceremonies to begin. Then the teachers would march in, beginning with the headmaster and deputy head. They would all be wearing academic gowns and would sweep in with gowns following – a bit like cloned versions of Batman. Their gowns were marks of authority and they certainly impressed us boys.

Some masters even taught in gowns, some of which were a little worse for wear. The eccentric English master wore a gown that was ragged and green with mould towards the hem. But on more special occasions such as prize-giving, the gowns were supplemented with academic hoods and hats in a variety of shapes and colours. It was an awe inspiring spectacle for teenage boys. It also gave us something to aspire to – a longing to wear the scarlet hood trimmed with fur and the fancy hat.

Jesus is critical of the scribes of his day (the academics), who loved to sweep about in long robes – to flaunt their status by their elaborate dress. I don’t know whether they were in a variety of colours, but clearly they were intended to impress. They were intended to draw attention to themselves so that they would be greeted with reverence and seated with honour.

Jesus has little time for such outward show. We are to impress others with a humble Christ-like character and servant spirit. If we are to aspire to attire, let it be to this:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14).

Imagine a people clothed like that. They would stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression as those who do not seek the best for themselves, but seek the best for others. Such lives might even be inspirational and aspirational for others, drawing them to the Lord Jesus.

Here’s a few more texts that encourage us to be well dressed:

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10).

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27).

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

And finally, some words from Count Zinzendorf; words which speak of a robe that never gets ragged at the edges or green with mould:

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head…

This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.

Lord Jesus, let me aspire to be clothed in the robe of righteousness that you alone can give me. And by your Spirit clothe me now with your own beautiful character that I may draw attention not to myself but to you and seek honour not for myself but for your holy name. As you have loved me, let me be clothed with love for you and for others.

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Peter Misselbrook