I've been debating what I'll wear Sunday to church. Dresses aren't my thing, but Christmas and Easter are typically the two Sundays I try to break my comfort rule, opting for something more presentable. I enjoy seeing girls with a little more swing in their step wearing new Easter dresses and sandals. I love seeing boys with button up shirts, and ties accomplished with the help of grownup hands. I always admire the few ladies that still wear a fancy hat. I've never been able to wear a hat. The hair that's left out is too poofy and my forehead gets itchy, but let's get back to what we're going to wear. You're going, aren't you?
I've actually been thinking a great deal about clothes the past couple of days, just not clothing these days. Since last Sunday, Palm Sunday, I've been on a hunt to find out everything I can about the cloaks and clothing worn way before, and around, the time that Jesus walked the earth.
We started out naked. Adam and Eve didnt need to wear anything, until they thought they needed something. After eating the forbidden fruit they sewed clothes for themselves out of fig leaves to hide their shame. Along with the curse that came from sin, God provided them with animal skins that covered them better.
Later, clothes including cloaks, became important, even if not for the same reasons clothes (styles and brands) are important today. A cloak back then provided protection from the elements.
A person's cloak hid their nakedness. The thin and simple cloth they wore underneath was more akin to underwear and, many times, wasn't sufficient to wear alone. A cloak could be taken off for a few reasons. The outer cloak could be taken off while laboring. With the destitute, it could also be taken off and given as a pledge for a loan. But even then, the creditor had to return the cloak to its owner before sundown because a poor man's cloak was all he had and it was determined it would not be taken from him.
Cloaks were also used in the presence of kings. When it was announced that Jehu would be king, his army officers removed their cloaks and placed them on the bare steps underneath him.
We don't hear of nakedness so much again until we see Job stripped of all his comforts and happiness. Dejected and alone he prayed,
Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. Job 1:21
Thankfully we know that Job's life was restored with him having twice the riches he had before and he was was given seven sons and three daughters. Though I can't imagine his loss, he was given a greater inheritance.
When we read about Palm Sunday we see the removing of cloaks again. When the disciples go and get the donkey on which Jesus will ride into Jerusalem, they take off the cloaks and put them on the donkey so that Jesus may sit on them. We read how the people in the crowd take off their cloaks and lay them on the road shouting Hosanna (God save us!).
But the most touching, and relatable instance I found of cloak losing is found in Mark 10 when Jesus and the disciples were in Jericho. After being with a large crowd they were leaving the city. A blind man named Bartimaeus, who had heard it was Jesus, began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many attempted to shush him, but he continued to call out.
Jesus tells the disciples to call him. And so they do.
Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you. Mark 10:49
But before even getting on his feet you can guess what he did. He threw his cloak aside! He cast off his most important possession. This is incredible for several reasons.
- His cloak was probably his only protection from the elements. He was a beggar.
- He put aside his security. He probably didn't own much, if anything. As he sat on the side of the road, his cloak was likely used as a catching place for coins that were tossed from those that passed by.
- He was in the midst of a king.
Jesus tells him Your faith has healed you. Bartimaeus then follows Jesus. Having been spiritually blind and destitute myself, what a beautiful image Bartimaeus gives, of casting off our worldly goods.
So what will you be wearing on Sunday?
More important, what won't you be wearing? What is God asking you to cast off? What's your cloak?
- Earthly comfort, the kind that keeps you from wholeheartedly serving him?
- Your ambition? Control?
- Your busyness?
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
Or is God calling you to give Him your shame, or your pride?
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... Isaiah 61:10
I'm not sure what I'll be wearing Sunday, but praise God for his son Jesus, I know what I don't have to wear.