Confusingly, our skin-is-in society tells us clothes make the man. There’s a nugget of truth there. Perhaps we could better say clothes cover up the man. When man fell, he tried to cover up with fig leaves. These were insufficient. God made them garments of skins. Man is still trying to make clothes that make him something, rejecting the only garments that can cover His shame—those which God provides.
Clothes made the high priest. They were holy garments that made him holy (Exodus 28:3). The garments were part of the priest’s consecration (Exodus 28:41, 29:1ff). Because the priests were sinners, they needed to be clothed.
When the priests acted as ministers, they must dress up, but when the great High Priest Jesus acts as a minister, He must dress down. The priests had to put on heaven. Jesus had to put on earth. The sons of Aaron couldn’t reach that high, but the forever Priest after the order of Melchizedek did stoop that low. The priests had to put on holiness. Jesus put on humility. The priest’s holiness wasn’t perfect. Jesus’ humility was.
Before a holy God we need holy representation. We need a son of Adam who is the Son of God. We need someone not simply covered with holiness, but to cover us in His holiness. All the Aaronic priests died; they too were sinners, so how could they deal with other’s sins? Jesus made atonement once for all and ever lives for us clothing us in the robe of His righteousness. Clothed with the garments of the great High Priest, we draw near unto God with boldness and confidence. The shame of Eden is gone. We need not run away, but in Christ, we may draw near to our heavenly Father.