If we are living in the light as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other and––GET READY––the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
––1 John 1:7 (ESV translation)
Now where did that come from? The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin? One moment we’re walking with John, talking about how our relationship with God affects our relationship with others, and the next, he’s going off about the blood of Jesus cleansing us from sin!
“And wait a second,” you might say, “blood doesn’t cleanse anything! It does exactly the opposite; what blood does is stain!
So what is John talking about?”
What he’s talking about is this magical reality, that when you’re with Jesus, all of the things that you’d like to hide about yourself––your addictions, your imperfections, your selfish inclinations––have nothing to do with who you really are. In Jesus, you get to be you, without all of that stuff. You get to be the real version of you, the Jesus version of you, and… you get to experience that version of others.
Why? Because the lion came in the form of a lamb. You see, as fierce as He is in his anger toward evil, in the person of his son, our lion-like God became our sacrificial lamb. By dying on the cross, Jesus united himself to every single sinner who would unite themselves to him. In essence, he was signing his name to a pact, which would send him our evil, and bring us his good.
But here’s a question: how do we sign this pact? How do we make this whole deal official and unite ourselves to him? The answer of Jesus comes in a single word, in this verse right here…
Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.
––Matthew 28:19-20 (The Message Translation)
Did you catch it? The word that marks our initiation in this pact? Baptism. It’s like the magic wardrobe in the Narnia books, which lead from one kind of reality to something entirely other. It’s the kind of thing that anyone can do, at any time in history, and in any culture, and it’s a statement, saying, “Yes! Whatever is meant by those mysterious words, ‘the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin’––I believe that, I want that, I need that for myself. I will give my life to him, so as to receive the life he has for me.’”
I’m kind of smiling right now, because I’m guessing you didn’t see us going into a discourse on baptism at the beginning of this little devotional. But it’s really the perfect time for us; a number of you have been talking about your excitement at having Jesus in your life in this fresh, new way, and baptism is the means Jesus gave us to express that beginning.
So… whether you’ve never been baptized, or were as an infant––if you want to take this personal, conscious step into the pact of baptism, your chance is coming, before this Christmas! I’ll give you more details this Sunday, but until we’re together then, take a dip in this soothing reality…
If we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.
––1 John 1:9 (The Message Translation)
See you all soon!