When my son Crawford was around four years old, he made his way to the front of our church as he did every Sunday for the Children’s Moments. This particular Sunday near Easter, the object of the lesson was a cross. The teacher held up the cross for all the children to see and asked, “Do you know what this is?” Crawford was the first one to exclaim, “That’s where Jesus hangs his purple coat!”
Ah, yes! The purple cloth that adorns the middle cross is very visible this time of year. Purple represents wealth and royalty; in Biblical times, purple would have only been worn by the wealthy; it was the most expensive cloth due to the dying process required. I will connect three people in the Bible whose stories are saturated in purple, beginning with Jesus. Jesus is royalty! He is the King most high, but he never wore the color purple until the hours leading up to his crucifixion.
They dressed him in a purple robe, twisted together a crown of thorns, and put it on him. And they begin to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They were hitting him on the head with a stick and spitting on him. Getting down on their knees, they were paying him homage. After they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple robe and put his clothes on him. They led him out to crucify him. Mark 15:16-20.
All of this was staged to make a mockery of this man who claimed to be King of the Jews. The violence and sarcasm that harassed our Savior offends every believer’s spirit. This is no small part of God’s glory that they removed the purple robe that the world held at such a high value. He was returned to his everyday, humble clothing that resembled the poverty around him. “God evidently despises the pomp and glory of the world, which little minds esteem so highly. He might have lived in marble halls, and wrapped in imperial purple, but God scorns these things.” Charles H Spurgeon.
There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was lying at his gate. Luke 16:19-20.
The rich man used his wealth to lavish good things upon himself, ignoring the man that lay at his gate in need. When the rich man died and was tormented in the flames of Hades, Abraham reminded him from paradise, “Remember, that during your lifetime you received your good things.”
A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. Acts 16: 14-15.
Each person from the three scriptures were wealthy (Jesus the most). They were all shrouded in purple, but what they did with their purple made all the difference. The rich man was closed off to others and used it all for his own pleasure, while Lydia’s heart was opened to extend her wealth and her home for the Lord’s use. Jesus removed the purple robe and gave all of his wealth for mankind, emptying himself out for our salvation. He passes his wealth on to you; he calls you royalty. What do you do with your royal garments? If we are to be like Jesus, we must take them off and lay them down for others. We give our best because he gave his all.