Seamless Tunic

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(This is #2 of the presentations for the series “Fashion Statements: Lessons from Garments in the Bible.”)

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What is your most expensive clothes? Perhaps the one you wore in your Junior and Senior prom in high school? For the teachers and faculty who are listening, it may be your wedding gown? Or your wedding tuxedo?

In 2013, Jennifer Lawrence, went into the Oscars wearing a Dior Couture creation, of a blush-pink ballgown. The gown was valued at $4 million. The dress was lent to Lawrence as she was the face of the brand. But the design made it difficult for Jennifer Lawrence to climb up the stairs to collect her Oscar award for the Best Actress, that she trip and fell on the stairs. Good thing she did not rip that very expensive gown.

Lawrence tripping at the Oscars

On this presentation, we will look at a piece of clothing that Jesus wore, that was considered expensive.

John 19:23-24 –When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided His garments into four parts, one for each soldier, with the tunic remaining. It was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it. Instead, let us cast lots to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill the Scripture: “They divided My garments among them, and cast lots for My clothing.” So that is what the soldiers did.

Weaving a seamless garment was a special skill, out of the ordinary and exceedingly rare – so quite valuable. Seamless tunic is expensive, no wonder the soldiers gambled for it. The garments they divided into 4 shares, but the tunic they did not, it was winner take all. Besides this is a fulfillment of a prophecy in Psalms 22. 

How can Jesus, who is not considered a wealthy man, afford such a valuable piece of clothing? Could it be a gift? Perhaps one of the women who followed Him made it. Was it a gesture of thanks for a miracle performed: a child raised from the dead, a husband healed or a marriage restored? Perhaps a gift from the happy couple whose wedding He saved at Cana? Did Mary, His mother, made it for Him? We’re not told.

What is the significance of this seamless tunic? Why did the Gospel writers specifically mentioned this? Who wears seamless robes anyway?

The gospel writers know that their readers in the first century were well-versed with the rich Jewish culture. So let’s look into it.

In Exodus, God has instructed the High Priest to wear a seamless robe. By mentioning that Jesus wore a seamless tunic, the Gospel writers were implying that Jesus was wearing a garment of the High Priest. Jesus was wearing a uniform of the High Priest.

It is interesting that Jesus is both the sacrificial lamb and the High Priest.

But there’s more. People during those times would rip their clothes or robe if they are mourning or are really upset. We will discuss that in another presentation. But the High Priest were forbidden to rip their clothes or robe, as was instructed in Leviticus 21. If he did, he invalidated, and brought to an end, his ministry as High Priest. Matthew and Mark both tell us that, when Caiaphas, the High Priest, had finished questioning Jesus, he tore his own robe. Did you ever notice that before? The Gospel writers, collectively, tell us that the old High Priest had been invalidated and he had been replaced.

Lastly, it was mentioned that the robe that Jesus wore was “woven in one piece from top to bottom.” When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain at the temple that was dividing the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, according to Matthew 27:51, was ripped from “top to bottom.” No more barrier between this two chambers of the Temple. You know that only the High Priest can go into the Most Holy Place, right? With the curtain being torn down, this signify that with Jesus death, there is no need for an earthly High Priest to intervene for us. Jesus is our High Priest who intervenes for us to our Father in Heaven.

Let us come to Jesus, our Heavenly High Priest.

(*photo from the http://www.cambio.com)

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