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I was just reading Mark 15:17-20 (ESV) (emphasis mine):

And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

Is this why purple is the color of Lent?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

It's actually kind of a contradiction. Which isn't surprising as Christ was a sign which would be contradicted (see Luke 2:34). Purple is a kingly color, which is why they put it on Jesus to mock Him. Purple is also, or has become, the penitential color for the Church, it is also the color worn and used to decorate churches during Advent.

Purple is certainly penitential in contrast to Rose, which is the color of Joy, worn on Laetare in Lent and Guadete sunday in Advent. But, the only other person to wear Purple clothes in the New Testament was the rich man (who went to Hell) in the parable of Lazarus (Luke 16:19). But his wearing purple is a sign of his wealth and vainglory.

Each of the ways the soldiers mocked Jesus have become for Christians a sign of His eternal glory.

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it's interesting to compare the rich man in the parable of Lazarus with Christ and note that we're all like the rich man, clothed in the purple (majestic) robes of wordly splendor, but Christ, ironically the true, majestic, king, dies for us and wears in shame those purple robes (robes, signifying perhaps, our sin?) quite, quite interesting. +1 – Thomas Shields Mar 29 '12 at 12:32

"Tyrian purple" as it is called and often referred to as "Royal purple" was often reserved for the very wealthy and royalty, essentially the 'elite' of society. The Romans placed an extremely high value on the dye as it was extracted from sea snails, therefore not easily obtained.

Christ was often referred as being "clothed in humility." He came from a very lowly background and it is quite symbolic of a peasant wearing something of kings.

While not quite pertaining to the history of purple and it's representation during Lent, you may choose to read The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-11) and The Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14) in regards to the meek and lowly being exalted.

Also, to be humble is not to be self-deprecating.

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I would suggest that most of this comes from imitation of Catholic traditions. The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of symbolism, and included in that tradition is the use of vestment colors.

Liturgical colors have reference in Biblical traditions, however...the only color worn by clergy until the 4th century was white. The first mention of different colors was made by Pope Innocent III who lead the church in the late 12th century. Please see the following for more information.

If I were looking for Biblical references for liturgical colors, I would be unable to find the use of red and green garments. Both of these colors have meaning in Catholic tradition.

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Welcome to the site. Here's a +1 for a good, sourced answer that stays on topic. I hope to see you post again soon. – fredsbend Nov 8 '14 at 17:24

As we walk with Christ during Lent, we are to meditate on the Christ's glory as well as suffering and sacrifice. each resistance to temptation is a victory, but his successes could not prevent his death on the cross and suffering prior to this. We are called to never forget this strength and the depth of.suffering Jesus experienced for our sins, earning our Grace in the eyes of God. The purple signifies Jesus' dual role as king and the son of God as well as his humble life as a carpenter, lived in poverty and service to others. During Lent we will experience mockery and misunderstanding by others, but if we.keep our eyes.on Christ and our desire to grow closer to him, our rewards will be immeasurable. Nothing we experience.on earth can compare to Christ's sacrifice, and if we always keep this in mind, we will remain grounded, humble, thankful,loving, and forgiving.

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Sources would greatly improve this answer. – Mr. Bultitude Feb 23 '15 at 2:12

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