What did the Savior wear to the Cross?
In the governor’s headquarters, the Savior is dressed by soldiers in a purple robe and a crown of thorns to mock Him who claimed to be king. He was dressed also in their spit and with bruises from their fists and with a wounded head, struck with a reed.
The robe is taken away. The Savior’s own clothes are divided among His destroyers and won by casting lots. Stripped of all earthly coverings, flesh and skin nailed in bare shame to the wooden beams – what royal dress do we see Him wear?
“He became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” [Philippians 2:8]. “Father, not my will, but yours be done” [Matthew 26:39]. “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law” [Galatians 4:4]. That chief and first commandment of the Law, He kept: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” [Matthew 22:37].
Jesus’ agony was His dress of love for God. His torn flesh was His clothing of loving obedience to His Father – “Your will be done.” Jesus loved God with all His strength – He loved unto the end on the Cross.
Jesus, in His human nature – the same nature as yours – loved the Father with the same love that our nature is meant to be infused with. He has done it.
Even as forsaken by God – as He cried, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” – still He loved God to the end. The Savior loved God with the true love – love that it is for better or for worse.
Jesus loved on the Cross as the vicarious satisfaction in your place – meaning, His perfect love unto death is the sacrifice offered – a sacrifice offered up as a sweet-smelling aroma to God – a sacrifice offered in place of man’s life which has not been one of perfect love. Jesus’ life of perfect love is offered in place of your life which is characterized by failure to love.
Jesus is dressed in the love that fulfills the Law for your sake – it is His act of righteousness that saves. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.”
Jesus’ love unto the end on the Cross is the “one act of righteousness” and the “one man’s obedience” by which the many sinners are righteous to God.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son” – and with the Father’s love the Son agrees. Therefore, the Savior Himself also dresses in your sin. Jesus, who obeyed unto death, dressed Himself also in your disobedience.
Your gossip and your complaining against your neighbor. Your failure to be a friend to brothers or sisters in your congregation.
Your little trust in God’s promises. Your greater trust in life’s wealth.
Your disregard for other’s bruises. That you walk past your neighbor’s needs. Your accusing assumptions against others.
The adultery in your heart, looking toward others. Your shameful lusts. Your disordered attractions. The evil thoughts you have that you dare not speak. Your entertainment in things that are not god-pleasing.
Your cursing and your blasphemy – your disregard for God’s name, making Him a joke or a word for anger – or a name ignored for good things.
Your failure to worship. Honoring God with the movement of your lips, but your heart is far from Him [Matthew 15:8].
Your drunkenness. The hope you put in leisure. Your self-confidence which doesn’t give the credit to God. Your hatred for God and your blaming of Him. The unbelief that clings in your heart.
The Savior wore all of this to the Cross. He has committed none of it, but He has clothed Himself in it. He made my unspeakable sin His clothing in open shame before God and men. And for my sin He was condemned. For my sin He died.
Jesus wore the just wrath of the Judge against sin. He wore hell and outer darkness. He wore the agony of the damning fires. He wore it on the cross for you.
Dressed in it, He became your sin. “God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, for our sake, so that we become the righteousness of God in Him.” [2 Corinthians 5:21]. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” [Galatians 3:13].
What was the Savior wearing to the Cross? Jesus wore His perfect love for the Father to offer it as a pleasing sacrifice in your place. Jesus wore your sin to die for it in your place.
On the Cross, Jesus has loved God with His whole heart and has loved His neighbor – which is you – as Himself. By wearing these two loves as His royal dress to the Cross, He has saved each one of you, making this a Good Friday.
And on Easter He rises – that He may live each day to forgive your sins and put a new clothing on you. Amen.