The Best Robe

With considerable pleasure we listened to an old French missionary as he spoke of his labours among Mohammedans in Northern Africa. One day in the market place of the town in which he was living, he told us, a crowd of men gathered round him with many questions. Eager to gain an advantage in argument over the solitary Christian, his questioners declared that in their religion they had 250 prophets and demanded to know how many prophets the stranger from across the sea could boast in. He replied that he could only boast in one, who was not only a prophet but the Saviour — the one and only Saviour — the Lord Jesus Christ. A burst of derisive laughter greeted this confession, for the crowd believed that the religion that could boast in an array of 250 prophets must be vastly superior to that which had only one.

Now, just at that crucial moment in the argument an old man spoke up, and wise were his words. He said: "Here are we with a religion that has 250 great prophets, and we are all clothed in rags; and there is the stranger with a religion that has only one prophet, and he wears a good suit of clothes; let us hear what he has to say."

It was a good point, and that weary and ragged old Mohammedan spoke truer than he knew, for the missionary wore a garment that he could not see, a garment spotless and without a flaw. No religion of works can supply such a garment, no matter how venerable its claims, or high its standard of ethics; the best that the best of these religions ever produced was filthy rags, for so Isaiah 64:6 tells us. But grace is different. The law, and every other law, is weak through the flesh, but grace gives — it gives the best, and it gives it to the worst. It was so in the prodigal's case, in that story which has been rightly called the pearl of parables. There the rags gave place to the best robe that the father's house contained. It was grace that did that, the sovereign unmerited grace of the father.

Nothing less than this will do for us if we are to dwell for ever in the presence of God, and nothing will please Him but this, we must have His best. Naked are all they who have not this robe that He gives, clothed for ever in garments imperishable and fair are all who have received this gift of righteousness from His hand. When the prodigal stood up in his father's house he stood erect, and there was nothing more splendid there than he, for he was clothed in the best that house contained, and he could boast in the garment that he wore, for it was the gift of the father's grace to him.

Oh, glorious truth is this! The blood, the precious blood of Jesus wipes out for ever our countless sins, and we are clothed in Christ, our risen, glorified Lord, for He is made to us righteousness, and in Him we become the very righteousness of God — and are holy and without blame before God the Father in love. Who would dare to say such things as these if God had not first said them? But He has said them, and we believe God.

It is this that God would have us understand and enjoy; in this, His own grace in Christ Jesus, He would have us to boast, and tell it out to others. Yes, to sinners everywhere, clothed in rags and by sin defiled — to all God proclaims the forgiveness of sins, and offers the wedding garment a robe not wrought by the power or wit of men, but produced by God's own fingers.

And one Saviour has made this possible, without aid or helpers. He accomplished the great work, and set God free to bring forth in perfect righteousness the riches of His grace. Only one Saviour, but able to save and clothe all. This is the message that the servants of the Lord may carry, and should carry, to the uttermost part of the earth.