Sunday, February 10, 2013

Completely Clean

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"He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean."
John 13:10

You know the story.  Jesus washed His disciples feet.  Peter objected.  When Christ explained it was necessary, Peter again tried to trump our Lord's direction with his own agenda, saying "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"

I like Peter.  There is so much in him that is typical of our own hearts - my own especially.  Jesus' words and instructions were simple.  Peter insisted on complicating them.  That tends to be our way.  Take a very simple statement of Scripture, and find a hundred ways to "un-say" what it obviously says or implies.  We try to make the words of God fit with our own perspective of right & wrong, rather than humbly asking the Lord to give us faith to trust Him.  Every page of the Bible is, in some sense, God saying "Jason - do it My way." But Jason too often has his own plan, his own agenda, his own goals.  We put "our feelings" before "God's instruction." 

What struck me in Jesus' words today illustrates this.  He spoke of being "completely clean."  Jesus is speaking spiritually.  This is no surprise to readers of John's gospel who have heard Christ speak using earthly words to convey spiritual realities such as the "new birth" and "living water" and "the food which endures to everlasting life."  Completely clean means being completely "clean" spiritually and legally before the throne of God the Judge.  Sin and guilt , over and over in Scripture, is illustrated by uncleanness.  Unforgiven is unclean.  Unforgiven is like coming up from the mud and never being able to wash it off.  Unforgiven is like perpetually living with the black marks of the coal mine of our sinful hearts.

Jesus is speaking to Christians.  He is talking of those who have already "bathed."  In other words, they have already been born again.  They have already been united to Christ.  They have already been once-for-all washed in the blood of the Jesus which "cleanses us from all sin."  But such Christians still need - in addition to this - a daily sense of and appreciation of forgiveness through repentance.  Sin is still a part of my life, and my sin still stains and smudges my Christian walk.  My conscience is stained.  My witness is stained.  My fellowship with the Lord is stained. 

What Jesus is saying is that the daily "foot washing" of repentance makes us really, truly and "completely clean." 

Christian - when you ask the Lord to forgive your daily transgressions - you are completely clean.  Completely.    That's what Jesus said.  "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean."  But like Peter, far too often we are slow to believe it.  Guilt builds up.  An awareness of inadequacy weighs us down.  Guilt is not the problem.  It is our [my] unwillingness to repent and believe in forgiveness that is the real culprit here. 

Jesus cleanses us daily when we confess our sins.  And this is a pattern for our service to others.  The daily cleansing we receive at Christ's hands provides us the example of the daily service and love we are to show one another. 

Completely clean.  It feels good.  But it takes faith to believe it.