Wednesday 8th April – Wednesday in Holy Week – 10th Station – Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
“Counting” Sieger Koeder
St John 19: 23-25
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,
‘They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’
And that is what the soldiers did.
The garment the soldiers preferred not to rip into pieces but let one of them win whole, has lived on in tradition and story. It is the subject 1950s Hollywood blockbuster The Robe, based on a best-selling novel, enabling the repentance and conversion of the Roman soldier in charge of Christ’s crucifiction. There are competing myths about its whereabouts and power as a relic. Imagine if you could see or even touch the tunic Christ wore at the end of his mortal life – a tangible bridge across the centuries to the heart of our faith.
On a tourist trip to Ephesus, I sat in the amphitheatre where the locals (encouraged by the silversmiths) had rioted against Paul’s influence in that city dependent on the Temple of Artemis for prosperity. The story was suddenly TRUE in a deeper way – it really had happened – even though I had always believed.
For early Christians, particularly those from a Jewish background, the fulfilment of a prophecy makes this scene ring true. The quote comes from Psalm 22, and Jesus cries the opening line as he dies on the cross. We now read this psalm through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and it ends with lines that include us:
‘future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.’
For us the words of the Bible are a bridge to The Living Word – so we chew on this bread daily for loving sustenance and life. For many of all ages the connection can be made more vivid, the stories real, through employing our senses as well as our minds – things to see, smell, taste, touch and hear. The meditative images by Sieger Koeder help our immersion in the Passion; sharing bread and wine includes us in the Last Supper – and the promise of the heavenly banquet to come.
Lord, Thank you for the gift of words That act as a bridge between Your life, death and resurrection And our lives. Help us to find life within these words And find creative ways to tell the stories So that all may discover truth, liberation and love in Christ. Amen
Dr Sam Richards, serving as Head of Children’s and Youth Work, member of mayBe Community, Oxford.