Jeremiah 13:1-7 “’Go and buy yourself a linen waistband…but do not put it in water…Take the waistband that you have bought,…and…go…hide it …in a crevice of a rock.”…After many days…“take from there the waistband which I commanded you to hide there.”…And lo, the waistband was ruined, it was totally worthless.”

John 13:3-4 “Jesus, knowing…He…was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.”

Observation: A linen waistband, a Jewish priestly garment, was worn close to the body to symbolize nearness to God’s heart. God used the object lesson of a new waistband’s being destroyed to illustrate what was to soon happen to the people of Judah, the people He held close to His heart. In John 13, we see another reference to garments being laid aside as Jesus prepared to minister to His disciples.

Application: The common appearances of garments in both the Old Testament and the New Testament readings for today, in different ways, spoke of God’s love for His people. In Jeremiah, God loved his people by disciplining them—removing the garment. In John, Jesus loved his apostles enough to remove his garment to better serve them. Verse 4 describes a moment before the footwashing when Jesus deliberately removed His garment and laid it aside, suggesting respect for the garment; no careless tossing aside here. 

In Jeremiah, the intimate garments that would soon be wasted and worthless illustrated that God’s beloved nation was about to be destroyed. Jeremiah said in 13:17 that his soul will sob…because the flock of the Lord was about to be taken captive. And in 14:11, the Lord commanded Jeremiah to stop praying for the people. It is as though Jeremiah’s prayers were somehow impeding the work that God needed to do. Those people had so rejected God there was no hope for them (see 7:12–18). So God told Jeremiah that praying would do no good. God was going to have to do what he promised to do.

There is something about the symbol of a garment worn close to the heart as in Jeremiah, and lovingly handled and laid aside by Christ, that pierces me afresh when I realize a time comes when those I love and have kept close to my heart must be lovingly “taken off” and released to Him. And if I do not, I must wonder that I trust Him so little.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I noticed today how gently You handled Your garments. With how much more love will You handle the hearts of those I now turn over to You? Forgive me, Lord, for hanging on so long, when all You have asked is that I release these dear ones to You.