Cloak Cleaning

by Sean Perron
by Sean Perron

If you were to ask John the Baptist what you should do in order to repent, he might tell you to clean out your closet.  In Luke 3, crowds came to hear the crazy-eyed, camel-skinned man speak on behalf of God. They came to be baptized and were rebuked. (I have never seen a pastor respond this way when someone responds to an evangelistic invitation.)

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from God’s wrath? Produce fruit consistent with repentance. God is ready to cut you down with an ax! Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

These are strong words from John that demand a response. John is not looking for lip service or a baptismal certificate. He wants everyone who claims God to prove themselves by their works. In one breath he shouts “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29), and in another he demands intentional life change. John would readily agree that faith without works is dead.

The crowds then ask, “What should we do? What does repentance look like for us?”

John tells them to share their shirts. “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.” (Luke 3:11 HCSB)

The rest of the passage continues with different groups of people asking the same question and John giving them specific instructions. Tax collectors are to be honest and not steal. Soldiers are to be satisfied with their pay and not bully. Yet the generic call to the crowds is a “spring cleaning” lesson. Clean out your closet and give your cloaks away.

While growing up, my mom would frequently have me “purge” my closet. Out with the old and in with the new. She would frequently hand me a large trash bag and send me on a cloak clearing mission. After loading the trash bag full, we would drive to the local Goodwill. Although I did not realize the significance of this in the moment, I am thankful for this example.

Did you receive another shirt at another conference? Feel free to give it away. Did you get new clothes for Christmas? Bless others who did not receive any presents or could not afford a conference. We only have one back, but most of us have more than one shirt.
Let the poor enjoy your garments rather than the moths. Don’t even be afraid to be so generous that you give away those unworn shirts that have “sentimental” value.

Is there a homeless shelter in your area that is in need of towels, socks, or shirts? Is there a woman’s choice center that could use some of your closet? Is there an international student that could use some good clothes? Is there someone in your church who is in need?

I wonder what John the Baptist would say if a group of us Americans went down to be dipped in the Jordan. Would he exhort us to store up treasure in heaven where moths cannot destroy?

This Spring, let us allow Jesus to walk into our walk-in closets. Let us allow Him to clean our hearts and our wardrobes. We might be surprised that purging our closets is proof that Christ has purged our souls.

How To Be a Biblical Groomsman

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification.  And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”  John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.  You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:25-30     

Being a groomsman has sacred significance.  The bride and groom are asking you to be witnesses of a covenant before God and to hold them accountable to it.  So, how can you glorify God and love the groom while being a part of his wedding party?

  1. Be grateful
    As John thinks about his ministry success preparing the way for Christ, he does not seek to keep it; rather, he acknowledges that his ministry was a gift from God.  In the same way, groomsmen ought to recognize the gift that their dear brother has been to them, and thank God for it joyfully.  Don’t spend the bachelor party, rehearsal dinner, and wedding thinking about how you’re losing a friend to marriage; instead, rejoice for the gift of friendship.
  2.  Step to the side 
    In the same way that John recognized that, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom” we ought to recognize that this marriage is not about us.  Rather, we should spend our time before, during, and after the wedding lifting up the meaning of marriage.  In the dressing room before the wedding let the stories of good times and belly laughs abound, but our primary role is to remind the groom of Christ and  highlight the weight of marriage.
  3.  Let his joy be your joy
    John says that he, “rejoices greatly at the bridegrooms voice.  Therefore, this joy of mine is complete”  In the same way, let the tears fill your eyes when your brother sees his bride for the first time walking down that aisle and his jaw drops a bit.  He is not thinking about you.  As a matter of fact, he probably has forgotten that you exist.  He is loving his bride.  His heart is filling with joy.  And as his heart fills with joy, yours should as well.

It is our great joy to share in one of the clearest human expressions of the gospel outside of the spoken word.  Let the weight of standing to the side hit us; and let us all – groomsmen, bridesmaids, bride and groom – decrease so that He may increase.


Spencer Harmon