Recently some friends and I were discussing how history is naturally written from different perspectives, with different agendas or intentions, if you will. We also discussed how this is not always a purely negative thing, but merely part of the purpose of historiography. This concept is conveyed even in Scripture. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all addressed their gospels to a slightly different audience, stressing different aspects of Jesus’ words and ministry.
As our church family has been reading through the Bible this year, we are also nearing the end of Scripture. Reading Christ’s death last night I noticed something new, or perhaps something I had not thought about in awhile. Fabric – two distinct fabrics- appeared simultaneously as a powerful symbol in Christ’s death scene.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15: 37-39
Two histories of the same historical event. Two fabrics. Two different fabrics.
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” John 19:23-24
Mark describes a Jewish curtain ordered and designed by God Himself. John focuses on a garment given to a Jew by the Romans.
Each historian creates significance from a textile. One is negative, the other positive. One says, “No more!” The other cries out, “Forever!”
Mark says the temple and the priests are no longer needed. They are imperfect. They are obsolete. The temple curtain is ripped from top to bottom.
John says only He is necessary. He is perfect. Even his simple garment makes a statement; it is woven from top to bottom. It is eternally intact. His plan was seamlessly finished.