Dave, here is my question: 

 All the gospels tell of the soldiers dividing up Jesus' clothing at the crucifixion, and that He was wrapped in linen for burial, as was the custom of the day.  When those who saw Him after the resurrection, what was He wearing? I don't recall seeing it written anywhere, but I assume He had been given His heavenly robes.  What do you say? 

Wow, thanks for a searching question. That's not one of the "top ten" we columnists get. You get extra credit for asking out of the loop, box and norm.

Let me start by stating that any stab at a definitive answer will have to be a guestimate, since this mystery is not clearly solved in Scripture. So in God's good sovereignty, it must not be required for us to know. However, some of the more likely answers could have profound theological implications; so maybe we are called to press in and know. Oh, the mysteries of God!

Your question brought back memories of movies where Jesus is dressed differently--either in white robes, or "heavenly robes" as you put it--after His rising. It's clearly possible that that was the case at least part of the time. However, there is no Scripture that even implies that was His attire. On the contrary, it would seem that His clothing might have been, if anything, even more unassuming than before the resurrection.

(Here, while we are on the topic of how Jesus is portrayed in movies or imagined in artwork or folklore. let me insert two questions of my own, as a kind of challenging aside. and a rabbit trail for some readers to pursue..Dr. George Fulp, maybe...

1.) Most artwork and movies assume Jesus had long hair, but Paul says "For a man to have long hair, it is a disgrace ." Doesn't that scripture make it hard to imagine Jesus having long hair? I'm not saying He didn't. Just a thought!

2.) Don't most of us picture Jesus, while he was on earth as a human, as at least fairly handsome? But Isaiah says "He had absolutely no beauty or majesty that we might be attracted to Him; There was nothing at all in His appearance that we might desire Him." Now, don't shoot me, but I have been tempted [and Jennifer T. will not tempt me!] to preach a sermon called "Jesus was ugly"! Now that's probably an overstatement, and I know He is far from ugly in His exalted state, but either the Scripture is true or not; and it is bold: "absolutely no beauty..nothing at all in His appearance". Just a wake-up and shake-up call to challenge our preconceived, or movie-made images with the Word's reality. (Keep those hate emails coming. I'll still love you!)

Now back to the task at hand: Jesus' attire after the resurrection.

First of all, it is probable that (again, contrary to nearly all artwork and movies), Jesus hung on the cross absolutely naked. This was a typical way of crucifixion, to increase the shame factor. Romans might occasionally add a loincloth type of garment as a token concession and nod to Jewish sensitivity; but not very often, it would seem. Of course, once we get past the emotive and cultural shock of imagining Jesus naked, we realize that if He indeed die naked, the symbolism is profound and prophetic: In Scripture, Jesus is called the "Second Adam". As such, it would make sense that He died "naked and unashamed." We are also told that "cursed is he who dies on a tree." The nakedness was a sign and enfolding of shame and token of curse. And the wonderful story of Corrie ten Boom and family, told in the book and movie "The Hiding Place," relates. One of the turning points of her ability to endure the Ravensbruck concentration camp, particularly the shame of walking naked past the male guards, was her conviction that Jesus too was shamed and stripped naked before guards. "Finally, it dawned on me," she preached once," that this (shaming through nakedness) happened to Jesus too..., and Jesus is my example, and now it is happening to me, then I am simply doing what Jesus did." She concluded, "I know that Jesus gave me that thought and it gave me peace. It gave me comfort and I could bear the shame and cruel treatment."

Note also, that though most translations are not so bold, John 19:24 could be read as "they gambled for His undergarments," which would sure seem to imply they were taken off. And of course it was protocol to bury someone like this naked, but wrapped in burial cloth. When Jesus tomb was entered, you remember, the burial clothes were found inside by themselves, even neatly folded up like a dinner napkin (John 20:6-7).

This leads directly to post-resurrection clothes. When Mary encounters Jesus, she doesn't at first recognize him, "assuming him to be the gardener". What did gardeners, and "blue-collar" workers in that day and age sometimes wear? There is some evidence that gardeners, fishermen and the like, might, despite the modesty factor, especially in hot weather, worked naked or nearly naked. I hate to tell you this (and please check it lout yourself), but many translations wimp out on translating the nature of Peter's dress when in the boat in John 21:7. It literally says: "he was naked (Greek word "gymnos"). Why is this significant? It would not be uncommon for a fisherman, particularly on a hot day, to fish literally "stripped down." A fisherman would fall into the same class of "blue-collar" (or ..pun intended.."no-collar" workers) who, some historians say, could acceptably be found naked, or almost naked, while at work (Here might be a profound theological point regarding Jesus: When was He more "at work" than on the cross"?)

At any rate, It would seem that Jesus was at this point wearing clothes hat would make him look less than conspicuous at a first glance. Ironic as it might sound from our culture's perspective, a woman might not think to take a second glance at a naked or an underwear-clad gardener in that culture; it was not altogether (sorry, bad pun intended again) unusual.

Now. please, I am not saying it's a done deal that Jesus was naked (Frankly, I don't think He was), or nearly so, at this point, And if God would have wanted us to know that, He likely would have spelled it out. But it would only be logical, that having been buried naked (that is, underneath his burial cloths, which we have been told were left behind in the tomb), in His very first appearance, before finding some clothes somewhere. or God putting some on Him..which is of course possible and maybe exactly what happened..He would still be dressed as He was underneath the cloth. We can't summarily and finally discount the minority position possibility that Mary thought He was the gardener because He was severely stripped down..like one would expect a gardener to be. By the way, there are other possible reasons for Mary not recognizing Him (see this article: Did Jesus Have the Same Physical Body After His Resurrection?*** ..by Eric Lyons)
Fascinating, too , that the only ones mentioned as wearing 'white clothing" at the scene of the resurrection were the angels (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24). It would seem obvious that if Jesus Himself were in white, as we often picture Him at this juncture (and as He was at the Transfiguration), that would be strongly keynoted (as it was at the Transfiguration: "whiter than any launderer on earth could make them"), and could hardly remain without comment.

We have all noticed that unlike his pre-resurrection appearances, Jesus seems to be a lot more prone to appear and disappear at will; even walk through walls. They at least once mistook him for a ghost or spirit( ); but this would not have to be because of his "whiteness" (in fact they expected ghosts to look and dress human...remember when the disciples thought they were seeing Peter's ghost when they were looking at plainly-dressed Peter.), but due to His elusive appearing and disappearing. Mark 16:12 even hints that He appeared at least once in a different "form." But it is important that many times, He is unrecognized, He still looks, and is human (he eats, etc.); even though He may be utilizing a new or "resurrection body" form at times. The disciples on the road to Emmaus walked with their Lord Jesus quite awhile before realizing who their fellow-traveler was. Surely He was not wearing anything out of the ordinary, no halo; no special robe, no glowing supernaturally, Transfiguration-like at this point. We are, though. told explicitly that they "were kept" from recognizing him. But we get no indication that His traveling outfit was anything other than the common and rugged one you would expect. (And don't worry, no one here will suggest that He was naked on the road!). Of course, if it was providentially arranged by the Father that the walkers would not clue in to the identity of Jesus until the appointed time, He could have been glowing in all His majesty: even with thunder, lightning and signs and wonders surrounding Him, and it would not have tipped them off. They "recognized him by the breaking of the bread", not by His clothes or holy glow (Luke 24:35).

In Matthew 28:16, at the Great Commissioning, '"some worshipped Him, but some doubted." Isn't it a stretch too far to imagine "some doubting," if here he had been dressed as God, or appearing supernatural? It would appear He still looked very much like any human...still with "nothing to attract us to him"..a plain-clothes man in literally plain clothes. Still, I admit this is argument from silence, so we don't know. But there is no direct hint of his clothing being anything special, or white, and certainly not heavenly.

So, there is absolutely no sure word on Jesus' post-resurrection attire. A most obvious guess would be that He dressed most of the time, like a normal man of his day and age. He may well have had on a white robe (earthly or heavenly), but somehow I don't think so (The images are probably more based in Medieval religious tradition and movies). At least most of the time. When Mark makes that frustratingly brief, cryptic and passing commentary about his Lord once appearing in "another form", that may well have been a' "heavenly robe" or "supernatural attire." It stretches the imagination. But again, this seems to be a rare change of wardrobe, or "form".

In summary, it would make sense, from a straightforward reading of the inspired gospels, that His usual post-resurrection attire called little attention to itself, and therefore were likely interchangeable with (and sometimes even less conspicuous than) with His pre-resurrection clothes

***Editors note: Eric Lyons web-page that has the article:  Did Jesus Have the Same Physical Body After His Resurrection? may move. I have reprinted the whole article at the above link...

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