September 16, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Seamless Christ
The coat was without seam
John’s account of the trial and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus is filled with details which the other writers do not give us. Here, in chapter 19:23, he gives us the reason that the soldiers did not tear His coat into four parts: “now the coat was without seam . They said . ‘let us not rend it, but cast lots for it’.” It may appear to be a minor detail, the sort of thing that is hardly worth a mention; yet it had tremendous significance.
First, it stands in total contrast to the first garment worn in Scripture. “And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons” (Gen 3:7). The first garment, the result of sin, was a “many seamed” garment. It was a testimony to sin and failure. The first man, Adam, had failed to obey one commandment. But God had another Man in His mind. He fully obeyed all God’s will. He wore a seamless garment. “It was woven from the top throughout.” From head to foot, He was totally consistent and pure. No defect in His thought life, affections, actions, or walk. Every part of Him was pure and holy. The seamless coat was a fitting picture of His person and purity.
But the coat without seam also led to the fulfillment of prophecy. As a result of the garment not being easily divided and being more valuable left in its entirety, the soldiers decided, rather than parting the booty among themselves, to gamble for it. With absolute precision, the words of David from Psalm 22 were fulfilled: “They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots.”
The seamless coat not only fulfilled prophecy, depicted His purity, but also exposed man’s perversity. At the foot of Calvary, their only interest was enriching themselves. While used in a different context, the words of Jeremiah seem so appropriate: “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by” (Lam 1:12)? Indifferent, self-centered, cruel, and callous, to the soldiers, the suffering of the Lord Jesus meant nothing.
But you have to ask yourself, if the person (likely a sister) who had painstakingly woven the garment for Him had any idea of what she would accomplish by her deed. It is likely that she was thinking only of showing her devotion and love; yet, as with every act of selfless devotion to Him, the results are far greater than anticipated.
1. Look at the garments of the Lord Jesus, beginning in Luke 2 with His swaddling bands, and into Revelation 1 and also chapter 19.
2. Think of the results of other acts of devotion done for Christ in the Gospel records: the man who gave his colt; Mary who poured her box of alabaster ointment on Him; the good man of the house who gave Him the guest chamber for the final Passover meal.
3. Can you find other contrasts with Adam in John 19-20? Can you see a link with His being mistaken as “the gardener” (ch 20:15)?