From “His Own Clothes,” Outstanding Black Sermon, Vol. 3 (1982)

Short of the cross itself and his betrayal by Judas, what the soldiers did to Jesus may well be described as the most humiliating part of our Lord’s suffering and death for you and me. We may be greatly wronged and deeply hurt, but we want to be able to hold onto our human dignity, the feeling that we are a part of the family of mankind. Great suffering may be visited upon us, but there can be a certain nobility, a mark of grandeur, and the way people hold their heads high and bear bravely whatever it is they must go through…

We read that when the soldiers had tired of their ugly game of ridicule and making sport of the Son of God, they took off the old scarlet tunic and put his own clothes back on him. This was the final preparation for crucifixion. They put on our Lord his own clothes. And “his own clothes” says worlds to us. We need to see him as he is, in his own clothes, not mocked and ridiculed by false respect and pious hypocrisy. When we see the Lord in his own clothes, in his true character and force, we see someone who makes us cry out for forgiveness and for his good favor and approval. Looking at Jesus as he is, we see ourselves as we are. …

His garments on that lonely hill were rolled in blood making understandable the old cry of Isaiah, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This is that glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength” (Isa. 63:1). In his own clothes he went to Calvary, and made everything all right, not temporarily all right, but for always. At Calvary, Christ was at his best. Nothing had been left undone. Or no other day does Jesus have to go back to finish the work at Calvary. … He died in his own clothes as Savior and Redeemer. Once for all. It is all right now. The crooked way has been made straight; we may arise and shine for our light has come. It is all right now. …

We shall see him yet in other clothes. Every eye shall see him. We will see him as heaven’s king, victor over death, hell, and the grave, admired of Angels. Every eye shall see him. Ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands of angels and the triumphant sons and daughters of God will escort him. His raiment will outshine the sun. And on his vesture, his garment, a name will be written, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. Shall we not shout his name who has lifted us to heights sublime and made us his own people forever?

Gardner C. Taylor (1918-2015) was an American Baptist pastor and Civil Rights leader, who served as pastor of Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church for over forty years. Called “the dean of American preachers,” Taylor taught preaching at several American seminaries over the course of his career.