In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now covering the Words of Jesus in the Words of Jesus. What the Word is and what the Word brings us. The next of these is ‘His Words cleanse us’.
You may be a bath person or a shower person, but we all know the wonderful satisfaction of coming home sweaty and dirty and being refreshed by soap and water. An article in the Independent claims that most women in the UK do not take a bath or shower daily due to tiredness. One in three have gone as long as three days without washing at all.
Our spirit needs cleansing too
The debate between baths or showers may go on with the vast majority preferring a shower due to convenience. However taking a bath has been proven to produce significant health benefits. It can lower blood sugar levels by 10%. It reduces cortisol levels in the body which is a hormone responsible for premature aging. The increase in body temperature of a bath improves circulation, calms the nervous system, detoxifies the body and releases endorphins which improves our mental wellbeing. It is also known to lower our blood pressure which reduces the stress on heart and cardiovascular system by increasing blood vessel dilation and reducing arterial stiffness.
All good for our physical cleanliness and soul health, but we humans are made in three parts. What of our spirit? The body connects with the material world through our five senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. The spirit interacts with God and the spiritual realm through another set of senses, such as faith, hope, and prayer. We need to cleanse our spirit too.
Jesus said, You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you], John 15:3. How do Jesus’ Words cleanse us?
He cleanses and prunes
Laws are given for our understanding of right and wrong. Unless we know the highway code how can we know the rules of driving? Being ignorant of the rules can mean we end up breaking the law and find ourselves in court before a judge. The same is true of Jesus’ Words. By knowing what He spoke we are convicted of our sin and thereby our behaviour is modified. We have the benefit of the Holy Spirit who helps bring this conviction and leads us to the cross. It also runs deeper than this. The Word says their faith in Christ and in the Words that He spoke cleansed them.
In John 13:10 Jesus said, Anyone who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is clean all over. And you [My disciples] are clean. The disciples were with the ‘Word’ – Jesus constantly. His Words would’ve been like a deep bath soak or continuous power shower to those who were closest to Him.
Yet Jesus always defaulted to the Father. Ultimately it is the Father who cleanses as described in the parable of the vinedresser Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit, John 15:2.
Faith in the Word
Henry says – The word of Christ is a distinguishing word separating between the precious and the vile. It will purify the church on the great dividing day. Each of the disciples were clean, that is, sanctified, by the truth of Christ (John 17:17 Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth). The faith by which they received the Word of Christ purified their hearts (Acts 15:9 He made no difference between us and them but cleansed their hearts by faith (by a strong and welcome conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God).
The Spirit of grace by the Word refined them from the dross of the world and the flesh and purged out of them the religiosity of the scribes and Pharisees. Apply it to all believers. The Word of Christ is spoken to us, there is a cleansing virtue in that Word, as it works grace, and works out corruption. It cleanses as fire cleanses the gold from its dross, and as medicine cleanses the body from its disease. We then evidence that we are cleansed by the Word when we bring forth fruit unto holiness.
With reference to His disciples that were faithful to Him (John 13:10): He that is washed all over in the bath (as was frequently practised in communal baths in those times), when He returns to his house, he only needs to wash his feet. The rest of him having had its bath, he would have only dirtied his feet in walking home.
Renew the exercise of repentance
What comfort and privilege are those who are in a justified state. They are washed by Christ and are clean every which way. They are graciously accepted by God. Though they offend, yet they need not, upon their repentance, be again put into that justified state. It is a once in a lifetime occurrence.
The evidence of a justified state may be clouded, and the comfort of it suspended, yet the contract of it is not away. Though we have occasion to repent daily, God’s gifts and callings are without repentance. The heart may yet still remain the devil’s palace, but, if it be washed, it belongs to Christ, and He will not lose it.
See what ought to be the daily care of those who through grace are in a justified state, and that is to wash their feet, to cleanse themselves from the guilt they contract daily through infirmity and carelessness. Renewing our exercise of repentance, with a believing application of the virtue of Christ’s blood. We must also wash our feet by constant watchfulness against everything that is defiling, for we must cleanse our way, and cleanse our feet by taking heed of it. Ps. 119:9 How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]. From yesterday’s pardon, we should fetch an argument against this day’s temptation.
You go and do to polluted souls
Christ washed His disciples’ feet to set before us an example. After He had washed their feet, He said, Do you know what I have done? This He showed that when His sufferings were finished, He put on the garments of His exalted state and was ready to sit down again, Luke 24:45, 46 Then He [thoroughly] opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures, And said to them, Thus it is written that the Christ (the Messiah) should suffer and on the third day rise from (among) the dead.
When Christ sent His apostles abroad as His agents, it was with this charge, that they should become all things to all men, 1 Cor. 9:22 To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak. I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means (at all costs and in any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ]). Jesus was saying – what I have done to your dirty feet, you go and do to the polluted souls of sinners, wash them. All Christians likewise are here taught to defer to each other in love, and to do it as Christ did it, unasked, unpaid. We must not be greedy in the services of love, nor do them with reluctancy.
Humble ourselves as He did
I am your Master, and you are My disciples, and therefore you cannot think it below you to do that, however low it may seem for the servant is not greater than his Lord. Christ had urged this also as a reason why they should not think it strange if they suffered as he did. It is the reason why they should not think it too much to humble themselves as He did.
Whatever our Master was pleased to lower Himself to in favour to us, we should much more be willing to lower ourselves in conformity to Him. Christ, by humbling Himself, has dignified humility, and put an honour upon it, and obliged His followers to think nothing below them. When we see our Master serving, we cannot but see how ill it becomes us to be domineering.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Cleansing Light Man can be forgiven for searching For a cloud with a silver lining But truly not all men desire My light Or would welcome its clear shining. Many shrink from its revelation To look elsewhere for their needs, Preferring the safety of the darkness That hides their deeds. Not for them the remorseless Light Of Him who above all is named. The light that would show the evil Of which they are ashamed. Pray for Light, rejoice to have it, Welcome its revelation But when in your lives it has done its cleansing work Do not have cause for relaxation. You must then bear it yourselves gladly. A torch for Me shining bright Out into a world that so sorely Needs to see the Light. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your Word that cleanses. I thank You for Your work of justification in my life. That I am justified by the blood of Jesus. May I be a torch for You in this dark world to shine brightly and draw many to You. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.