Scripture: John 19:23-24, Psalm 22:18, Matthew 22:2-14
When Jesus was crucified, the soldiers gambled for Christ's robe. Today people gamble away Jesus' robe for things that will not last. The parable of a wedding a robe explains more deeply the meaning of Christ's robe.
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One Friday afternoon in the year 31 A.D. a triple execution was taking place on a hill to the north of Jerusalem. Three men, each condemned to death on the cross, were dying. Two of these men were noted criminals. The third Man had never committed any sin in His entire life. He was Jesus, dying for the sins of mankind. It is written in John 19:23-24 concerning the events of that day, "Then the soldiers when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat; now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be. ... These things therefore the soldiers did."

At this time the Jewish nation was under the control of the Roman government. In most cases involving capital punishment, the Jews were required to seek permission from the Romans. Thus it was Roman law that officially condemned and decreed the death sentence upon Christ, and Roman soldiers that must see to it that the sentence was carried out. As the soldiers stationed themselves at the foot of the cross to await the painful end, they decided to divide the clothing of Christ among themselves. Each of the four soldiers received one article of Christ's clothing, but when they came to His coat (robe), they decided to make it an object of a game of chance. So they cast lots, and the winner received the entire robe as his own. In writing of this event, John reminds us that long ago, David had written that the soldiers would do exactly as they did on that crucifixion day. You may read this prophecy in Psalm 22:18. In fact you'll read also many other specific predictions about Jesus, 300 or more, that were given hundreds of years before He was born. How He would die, where He would be buried and who would place Him in that tomb of a rich man, etc.

But it is not the actual robe or coat which the soldiers gambled over that I wish to speak about today. It is something far more important to us. Did you know that men today are still gambling away the robe of Christ? Some gamble for a mess of pottage. Man's perverted appetite has turned to gluttony and drunkeness. They partially or completely ignore Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Man's body, created in the image of God is intended to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, but man defiles his body by allowing the desires of the flesh to control him, and thus the robe of Christ is gambled away.

Others in the world are gambling away the robe for worldly gain. The desire for worldly possessions, to amass great wealth, has turned the heart of man away from God and His plan for man's life. Men seek to establish their own ease and plenty here on earth, and then if time permits, perhaps a casual preparation for the hereafter is considered.

Still others are gambling away the robe for pleasures and activities that have no place in the formation of a character that must stand the test of the great judgment. Habits of life that leave only an emptiness in the soul are instruments of gambling for many today. And from all those things which men count so dear, there comes only a continuing spirit of restlessness that turns apparent joy into a transitory thing, and life is left without meaning.

To understand exactly what the robe of Christ is that men today are gambling away so recklessly, we will turn to Matthew 22:2-14 and read the illustration that Jesus gave. I hope you will read the whole story in your Bible as you have time. The King is God. The Son of the King is Jesus. The wedding represents the second coming of Christ to be united with His followers of all ages. The followers are the Church members, who are represented as being the bride. The servants are the prophets and workers in the cause of God, both in the Old and New Testaments as well as in all ages.

Friend, this story perfectly illustrates the activities that are now taking place in heaven in relationship to the work of God on earth. In verse 11 of this story we note that just before the wedding took place, the King came in to examine each of the guests to see if all had made full and complete preparation for the coming wedding. This represents the time of judgment when the cases of everyone will come personally and individually before the Great Judge, God the Father. The King came to a man who did not have on a wedding garment, and He asked him how it came about that he came to the wedding unprepared.

This man doubtless had many good excuses in his mind for not having the robe. We would do well to notice certain things about this man. He was a believer. He came to the wedding because he believed that there would be a wedding. The analogy is that he believed in the return of Christ. He made certain preparations and doubtless some sacrifices to be there. But to him the wearing of the robe seemed too small a matter to be important. Apparantly he had gambled away the robe. The robe had been a gift. He did not need money to purchase it. Upon acceptance of the invitation to the wedding, the robe was offered to him freely. But apparently he thought to himself, God is so good, He will not be particularly concerned with such small details. After all, I do believe in Him. I have had to give up many things in order to be here. Surely I don't have to be concerned about a robe. Perhaps this man rationalized that since his parents had not lived this way and yet were good people, it would be all right for him. Then too, he knew of many religious people who were not living this way either. Surely so many good people could not be wrong!

But they were all wrong, friend! When the King came in and saw him there, the man who had so many reasons for not doing what he had been asked to do could offer not one excuse. All his carefully thought out excuses vanished, and he was speechless. The Bible says he was cast into outer darkness. He was eternally lost!

It is recorded in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone that saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." And in James 1:22 we read, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." This story reveals to us the urgent need of a full and complete surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. The robe is a symbol of His character, made known to man through His word. Our lives must be hid in Him, and His life must become the pattern for our lives.

I am reminded of a short passage in Isaiah 4:1, "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, ‘We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by Thy name, to take away our reproach.'" The women represent the so-called Christian churches of our day. The Man is the Lord Jesus. The churches want the name of Christ. They wish to say, "We are Christians because we believe in the name of Christ."

However, in this short passage we see that these groups put certain restrictions upon their acceptance of this holy Name. They say, "We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel." Bread is a symbol of doctrine; thus the churches here are saying that while they will call themselves Christians, they will teach whatever doctrine they desire. It may not always be in harmony with the bread of the Bible, for they plainly admit that it will be "their own bread." They also say, "We will wear our own apparel." Apparel, like the robe, is a symbol of character. Thus the modern church will set its own standard of living. The robe of Christ is cast aside in place of the robe of their own making. But the tragic reality is that all this is being done allegedly in the name of Christ.

Friend, no truer picture or the spiritual conditon of our modern Christian churches of today could ever be given than given by Isaiah seven hundred years before Jesus' birth. The average modern doctrines today are hardly recognized when carefully studied alongside the "bread and apparel" of truth from the Bible. Many of the doctrines and practices in the modern church have come down through paganism, tradition, and other forms of false worship. In Ezekiel 22:28 God calls these doctrines of men untempered mortar, vanity, and divining lies which false prophets and ministers have credited to God when God has not spoken. Truly, friend, men today are gambling away the robe of Christ just as surely as did the soldiers so long ago.

Now let me speak frankly. Is modern theology any better than they? Can we denounce the soldiers and then follow the modern church, which bases some of its teachings on fables, traditions, and doctrines contrary to God's word? The robe of Christ is more than a theological idea or theory. The robe is Christ's character and His truth. At the moment we accept Jesus as our personal Saviour, we receive forgiveness from past sins; but, we must then be willing to accept His life, His character, His word as our way of life. What He taught so long ago must still be accepted and followed today. We have no right to add our own thinking or ideas to His word, nor do we have any right to leave any teaching out of our lives. To add to His word or to leave any of His truth out of our lives is to gamble away His robe just as surely as did the soldiers.

If we say we are Christians, we must be willing to eat His bread and wear His apparel. His bread is the full truth revealed in all the Bible. His apparel is the full standard of living made known to us through His word. Whatever is contrary to the Bible, whatever comes through tradition, paganism, or any source not in full and complete agreement with God's word is not His bread and not His apparel. Speaking of this false robe which men have made, Isaiah says. "For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but My righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation from generation to generation."

Friend, the invitation is extended to you to prepare for the wedding, the second coming of Christ. Soon Jesus shall appear in the skies. Now, this very moment, the King is examining the records of every guest.

"But," you say, "how do I accept this robe?" In Revelation 3:5 we read: "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name from the book of life." There is only one way for us to overcome, and that is through the power of Christ in our lives each day. When the natural ways of life are surrendered to Christ, the transforming power of His Spirit takes control of us in a new creation, and thus we wear His robe of righteousness.

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