Clothes Carry Power

In biblical times we see that clothes literally carry power. In 2 Kings chapter 2, Elijah and Elisha are walking together, as Elijah will soon be taken into Heaven.  The great prophet Elijah folds his cloak and uses it to divide the waters of the Jordan River, allowing both him and Elisha to walk through on dry ground.  Elisha desires to have a double portion of Elijah’s power and Elijah tells Elisha that he will if he sees him ascend to heaven.  Suddenly, a chariot of fire appears, and Elijah is taken into heaven, with Elisha witnessing this incredible act.  Elisha is left with the cloak, which he then also uses it to divide the waters so he can walk on dry land. Some who saw this exclaimed, “Elijah’s spirit rests upon Elisha!” (2 Kings 2:15 NIV). The cloak still held power, which was left behind from the original wearer.  It was not necessarily the words spoken by Elisha by which he was able to cross the river, but by using the same garment used by Elijah. The cloak had been part of Elijah’s identity, and Elijah inherits the power of his predecessor. 

In Luke 8:40-48, Jesus is walking amongst the crowds and senses that someone has touched him. He asks, “Who touched me?”  While the disciples responded that there were many people who crowded and pressed around him, Jesus insisted that a specific touch had occurred: “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” It turned out that a woman who had been ill for many years had touched the edge of his cloak, for she believed that if she merely touched the edge of his cloak, she would be healed. The garment, or more specifically the edge of Jesus’s cloak, contained power because of who the wearer happened to be. While Jesus himself was not fully accessible given that crowds pressed in and around him, the edge of his cloak reached down to where the woman could reach for it. Because the woman possessed the faith necessary to be healed, she was able to use the cloak as an intermediary channel between Jesus (supernatural) and her need for healing from sickness (natural).

This shows that clothes carry immense significance and demonstrative power.  Elijah’s cloak was not a just a garment that hung on his body but became a real living part of him.  The edge of Jesus’s cloak did not just hang limp but contained real power. The examples here point to specifically a spiritual aspect, but they inevitably extend to daily human life. 

Clothes carry significance because they are an extension of who we are as individuals.  What we decide to wear daily becomes a signifier for the person that we truly are.  Even when we decide to deviate from our regular uniform, we are conveying that we are deliberately wearing something different and there may be a reason for it (a special occasion, etc.).  For clothes to take shape, one must wear them several times. They become “lived-in” and gradually adjust to the owner’s shape and movements, such as in footwear.  Clothes become part of one’s identity, even so much that after unworn, they may still carry the residue and smell of their previous owners.

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