Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"He'd Give You The Coat Off His Back!"

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. - Gen. 3:7

Parents have a way of telling that "so cute" story about you so many times that you wonder if they'll ever tire of telling it.   I was a fairly image-conscious kid.   My second grade teacher paid me a compliment for wearing a tie for picture day so I wore it every day for the rest of the year.   But here's the story they really love to tell...

This is us... in our own clothes!
When I was in 4th grade I grew particularly attached to a plaid, long-sleeve button-up.  One day over Sunday lunch my uncle commented that he liked the shirt and asked me if it was a flannel.   I replied, "no, it's Izod". 

What can I say?  I was also brand conscious.   I was aware that what I wore stated something about me.  Somehow my identity was tied up in my clothing.   I wasn't the first and I won't be the last.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than  all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. - Gen. 37:3-4

Joseph's coat of many colors was a sign of his father's love.  The coat symbolized the birthright being given by Jacob to his 11th-born son.  God gave Joseph dreams of a future that matched his earthly father's proclamation of Joseph's greatness.   Hearing Joseph describe these dreams incensed his older brothers and caused them to hate Joseph so much that they eventually stripped Joseph of his ornate coat and sold Him into slavery.  

In God's infinite wisdom "what man meant for evil, God meant for good".    Joseph was God's chosen man and the coat and the dreams were signs of the blessing God would bring forth through Joseph.   But to be blessed by God is often times to be ostracized by man.  Joseph ultimately endured extreme persecution and hardship in order to bring all of Egypt through a terrible drought and physical salvation to the Israelites.   With obvious messianic foreshadowing Joseph was the chosen suffering servant whose obedience led to the salvation of a people and it all began with a father's love and beautiful coat.

Ministry is not first about telling people what to do, but about telling them who they are, so that obedience will flow out of celebration. - Paul David Tripp
In Jesus' Parable of The prodigal Son the younger brother, finally having come to the end of himself, returns home to become a slave in his fathers' house after squandering his advanced inheritance with riotous living.  Head hung low and exhausted by his own sin the son seeks only his father's mercy but receives an overwhelming abundance of grace as well....

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. - Luke 15:21-22

The son "who was lost but has now been found" is treated like royalty not because of his intrinsic worth and certainly not because of any meritorious conduct but because of His father's love for him.  Value had been imputed to him.   The best robe is a garment meant for him who is worthy of wearing it.  In this case the father deemed the pitiful, wayward son worthy and literally covered him with grace.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. - John 19:23

It's not hard to see Christ's reason for telling the parable.   Jesus Christ is the Son of God whose robe we are not worthy to wear.   Yet because of the Father's love for us, Jesus exchanged His clothing, becoming literally naked and shamed for us that we might be clothed in His majesty and finally become unashamed.   

Jesus Christ hung naked before men that men might not be found to be naked before God.  That unlike our first parents and everyone since we would no longer be ashamed of our nakedness before God because God only sees us adorned in Christ!

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 -  Isiah 61:10

Most brides desire to look more radiantly beautiful than ever on their wedding day.  (Ever seen the TLC reality show Say Yes to The Dress?)  The bride in white is a picture-perfect symbol of the church who is presented as spotless and without blemish before our groom, Christ Jesus, who has won us to Himself by taking our upon Himself our filthy sin.

We have no righteousness that does not belong to Christ, no power that is not given by Christ and no hope that doesn't depend on Christ. - Paul David Tripp

In Act IV of Puccini's tragic opera La Boheme the bass sings Vecchia zimarr, senti.   Colline.  A young philosopher, sings a farewell to his prized overcoat just before pawning it to buy medicine for his friend Mimi who is dying of tuberculosis.  He sings....

Faithful old garment, listen, I'll rest down here
you however, must climb the sacred mount of piety.
My thanks you must receive.

Deep in your calm cavernous pockets,
You have protected philosophers and poets.
Now that our happy days have fled, I must bid you
farewell, faithful friend of mine. Farewell, farewell.

Colline gives up what has become an integral part of his identity in order that he might save his dying friend.  Just another gleaming example of how the most touching art somehow touches the truth of God in Jesus, Him who laid down what He had that we might forever and always have what we need, peace with God.  
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. - 2nd Peter 3:14


This Week 

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   Chapters 26-29 of The Screwtape Letters
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm) 

* Please pray as we meet with several hurting couples this week and weekend whose marriages are under attack.

To support B3 Ministries click www.b3ministries.net

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