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Putting on new robes

June 25, 2013 No Comment

by Rudy Pastucha

Rudy-Pastucha-webChrist is risen! He is risen indeed! By the time you read this article, we will be beyond the season of Easter in the Church Year. But please permit me to linger with you in that season a bit longer.

Remember all those readings from the book of Revelation during the season of Easter? Ever wonder why? The Church, over many years, came to realize that the Easter Season is both an opportune time to proclaim Christ’s appearance after the resurrection to many witnesses, as well as to reflect on the vision of Christ gathered with His Bride the Church at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The Lamb crucified now, and the Lamb glorified—but not yet.

Do some of the words from Revelation here sound familiar?

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen’” (Revelation 7:9-12 ESV).

We sing these words in our liturgy’s Hymn of Praise: “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” We sing back to God His praises using the words He has given us.

Notice who is in this picture here: those who have died in the faith! They are clothed in white robes—the robes of the righteousness of Christ. That righteousness is the gift of God (His mercy, grace, and the forgiveness of sins). It was earned on the Cross, and is given to us, given for us, by Christ. For those with family who have departed in the faith—mothers, fathers, children, and friends—these are words of comfort.

These robes are not natural to us, though. They are not our own clothes. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, after having fallen into sin, tried to cover up that sin with robes of their own making: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7). They tried to craft their own solution to sin.

It didn’t work.

But God promised them a Saviour anyhow, in the third chapter of Genesis. God does something else for them too: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). This was a symbol that God alone would accomplish their salvation; their own efforts to save themselves were not enough. God takes away their fabric of fig leaves and gives them “garments of skin.” God kills an animal and makes them clothing from its skin. An animal gave its life, spilled its blood, to cover the shame and sin of our first parents.

The Lamb of God gave up His life in order to cover us with His own robe of righteousness.

The Lamb of God gave up His life in order to cover us with His own robe of righteousness. All our sin hung on the cross. In fact, Christ died uncovered (“robe-less,” one might say) on the cross. (The coverings you see in artwork are there for modesty purposes). Our shame and sin stood exposed there naked and nailed to the cross—the place where, in God’s sight, all sin belongs. Christ takes our place, takes upon Himself our robes of shame and sin, and exchanges our robes for His. Our unrighteousness is placed upon Him, and He clothes us in His robes of righteousness.

So we now come to the Book of Revelation, where John sees one long vision describing the Feast that awaits those in Christ. We rejoice in the “then” of Christ having died for us; the “now” of Christ for us in our life, and the “not yet” of the life that is to come. This is the joy of Easter! Say it with me again: “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

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Rev. Rudy Pastucha is Third Vice-President of Lutheran Church–Canada.