The Gospel According to Mark uses clothing as a symbol and a narrative device. The result is that the reader gets a deeper understanding of the lesson that is being taught by a particular verse. Let’s look at some examples of how Mark uses clothing to tell us about Jesus. All verses are taken from the New International Version translation, except Mark 15:20, which I feel isn’t precisely translated regarding clothing in this particular verse.
“John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.” (Mark 1:6)
John’s coarse clothing symbolizes that he was a prophet, dressed similar to Elijah.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.” (Mark 2:21)
The old garment represents the old, inflexible, distorted religious traditions of men. (i.e. rules regarding the Sabbath)
“When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:27-28)
The woman’s great faith is demonstrated when she touches the cloak of Jesus.
“Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.” (Mark 6:9)
The twelve disciples are told not to bring an extra tunic , which would signify an excessive concern with worldly matters.
“ They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.” (Mark 6:56)
The faith of the masses is illustrated when they touch the edge of Jesus’ cloak .
“His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” (Mark 9:3)
The unearthly white color of Jesus’ clothes adds to Mark’s description of His transfigured appearance.
“When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.” (Mark 11:7)
Clothes were expensive for most people. Giving their cloaks to Jesus to use as a saddle demonstrated their love for Him.
“Many people spread their cloaks on the road, ...” (Mark 11:8)
The costly cloaks of the people placed in the road also show devotion to Jesus.
“ ... Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces.” (Mark 12:38)
The long flowing robes of the Scribes denotes their desire for attention and praise from men.
“ A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.” (Mark 14:51-52)
The loss of his linen garment illustrates the shame of this mysterious young follower of Jesus, who abandons the Lord in the garden.
“The high priest tore his clothes.” (Mark 14:63)
The high priest tore his clothing to show his indignation at the supposedly blasphemous statement made by Jesus.
“And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.” (Mark15:20 KJV)
The prophesy in Psalm 22:18 was able to be fulfilled when Jesus’ clothes were put back on Him.
“As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.” (Mark 16:5)
The white robe of the young man recalls the white robe of Jesus when He was transfigured, and now symbolizes His resurrection.
In this gospel, Mark uses clothing as a motif to enrich the reader’s understanding of faith, love, pride, shame, anger, prophesy, and resurrection. There seems to be no limit to the depth of meaning in the Word of God.