(A repeat from 2005.)
Bring forth the best robe and put it on Him."
Who does the Bible identify as the recipient of "the best robe?"
Is it the Lord Jesus Christ, honored upon His triumphant return to Heaven after He victoriously trampled sin, hell, and the grave under His nail-scarred feet? Might it be David, at the coronation where he was crowned King of Israel? Or could the Bible refer to an overcoming saint, finally reaching glory after living an earthly lifetime of faith, obedience, and sacrifice for God and others?
While we might anticipate these as candidates for such Biblical affirmation, they are not the subjects of this blessing of the best robe. Instead, Scripture identifies the recipient as one who expected little, if anything, of reception and welcome.
"And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Luke 15:15-24).
We have all sinned against our Father, wasting His inheritance to the degree that the odor of swine might seem, as with the son above, our most appropriate garment. If, however, we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, God adorns us with the best robe. He clothes us with our Savior's righteousness to the degree that our Father remembers no more our rejection of Him, or the degradation that characterized our lost estate. He rather looks upon us and sees the robe, the best robe. Forever thereafter, He relates to us as the loving Father of sons and daughters who were dead, and are alive again, who were lost, and now are found.
"And lest the shadow of a spot be found, He took the robe my Savior wrought, and cast it all around!" (Isaac Watts, from the hymn, "Awake My Heart, Arise My Tongue!).
Upon our arrival in Heaven, we will know in far greater measure the extent of our Lord's redemption, and of its cost. The realization will take our breath away, and we will feel that we cannot bow low enough to adequately humble ourselves before the Author and Finisher of our salvation. This will be true, but we will also hear our Father's command that we arise in order to display to all the Blood-washed garment that adorns us. As we do, the glory of the Lord Jesus will shine forth from us in a splendor heretofore unknown, along with the revelation of a grace that even eternity will not fully declare...
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."