Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
Crucifixions were always supervised by Roman soldiers. This was done to keep the crowds under control, and to confirm that the victim had actually died. It could be a long and boring duty, depending on how long it took for the victim to die, and how interested the people were. So the soldiers commonly gambled over the garments of the dying person. He wasn’t going to need them any more, after all! It is widely believed that the victims were not offered the dignity of even a loin cloth, and hung completely naked and exposed. Quite a comedown for the Man Who came from the halls of heaven, sinless, holy, and pure. That’s how far we are from His perfection. We are naked in His sight, nothing hidden, nothing secret from Him. Sometimes we think we can cover our sin, and often we can do so for the people in our lives. But God sees all of it. The candle of His Spirit exposes every dark corner of our hearts.
So. Each of the four soldiers on duty got something that Jesus had worn. Sandals, under-garments. But when they came to His robe, they decided to cast lots to see who would get it. Why? Because it was unique, having no seams, being woven from the top downward.
We are told in Exodus 28:31-32 that the High Priest’s outer garment was to be all one piece, no seams, woven from the top to the hem. His robe was a reminder of His status as the only High Priest we would ever need.
This is only conjecture on my part, but I read the book, The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas, long ago, that described it as the same robe He was wearing when He was anointed from the head down with spikenard, a wonderfully aromatic and expensive oil. The perfume was in His hair, His beard, and dripped down onto His robe. Through all He endured, the aroma of that gift was still around Him–He was surrounded by the love shown to Him in those few moments. (Thinking about that book made me curious to read it again. I just got it for my Kindle 🙂 )
Of course, the soldiers had no idea they were fulfilling scripture. Psalm 22:18 describes what happened: “They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” As Jesus died for their sins, those soldiers gambled at His feet over His garments. What a perfect picture of the total unconcern of a lost and dying world.
What would they do with His robe? We don’t know. Whoever won it may have tried to sell it; perhaps he shoved it into a chest of some sort and forgot about it; perhaps he tore it up to sell as souvenirs of the event.
I’m glad we don’t really know what happened to it. If we did, someone would be selling scraps of it as being holy relics, able to cure diseases or perform other miracles. The miracle was not in the robe. It was in the Man Who hung dying for me.