I had a letter jacket in high school. It was one of the many reasons I was so excited to make cheerleader as a freshman, because that meant I got a jacket my very first year of high school.
It was red with a block O on the left. My first name was written on the back. I would get patches from school for each year I was a varsity cheerleader and each year I lettered in a sport.
Sadly, my jacket is a bit bare. Not because I didn’t do much, but because patches were a whopping $60 a pop. Waaaay to much.
Think back to your letter jacket days. There were times when someone else gave you their letter jacket to wear. And when that happened, you kind of took on their name. Because it was most likely written somewhere on the jacket.
In high school, you can be picked out from a crowd by the mere sight of your letter jacket. When I went to London over New Years my senior year, I didn’t want to take my letter jacket because I didn’t want complete strangers seeing my name in big, bold letters.
Back in Bible times, they weren’t rocking letter jackets, though it could be fun to imagine what kinds of clubs and activities our favorite people in the Bible would have taken part in.
In 1 Samuel 18:1-5, we see Jonathan give David his robe (aka letter jacket).
Now it came about when he finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt. So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
Jonathan made a covenant to David when he gave him his robe.
Now think real fast about how each of their robes might have looked.
Jonathan was heir apparent, son of King Saul. He was a prince. So his robe was niiiice. Maybe purple and satiny is how I think of it. Just super fancy. Like when you see it, there’s no doubt the dude wearing it is royalty.
And then there’s David’s. He’s the youngest son, so a hand-me-down. Probably patched. Stained from working out in the field as a shepherd. A bit smelly. Brown. Ragged.
So when David put on Jonathan’s robe, he was in essence putting on Jonathan. Because like letter jackets, people identified others by their clothing.
I doubt many people knew what Jonathan looked like. There was no PR department sending out pictures to the provinces. No, he was known and recognized by his robes. So people could mistake David for Jonathan because of the robe.
Which could give David access to super cool places. But it also mattered how he acted.
This covenant shown in the Old Testament is a picture of an even better covenant that some of us have made already.
We had robes of sin.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.
– Ephesians 2:1-2
Jesus wore a robe of perfection as He was without sin.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
– Hebrews 4:15
As it was so eloquently put in the Worth women’s Bible study at my church – when we believe upon Jesus, we enter into a new covenant and are identified with his death, burial and resurrection.
At some point in your salvation, you CHANGED ROBES with Christ.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
– 2 Corinthians 5:21
Our robes of sin no longer define us. Our identity is in Christ. We keep trying to put the old robes back on, but they don’t fit anymore.
When you put on Christ’s robe, you put on His identity.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
– Galatians 2:20
I cant have control of my life if Jesus has control of my life as well. We die to ourselves so that Christ will live.
Because we are now identified in Him. Because He took our dirty, tattered, sin soaked robes and gave us instead his perfectly clean robe.
We did nothing to deserve that. At all. By any means. But He did it anyway.
And as we wear His robe, it does matter how we live. We don’t define ourselves anymore by what we were before Jesus.