Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In Baptism all of You is Made Clean.

Luke 11:37-41 (ESV)
While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. [38] The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. [39] And the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. [40] You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? [41] But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first baptize himself before dinner. That’s how it would read in the Greek, if baptize did not mean to wash, and imply a hand washing and perhaps a slight washing of the face. This is what the Pharisees did before meals. It was a man made tradition. Good as far as it went, but nothing that should have ever been a law. These aren’t things that others have a right to take offense at because you did or did not do them. Perhaps like folding your hands or keeping your eyes open during prayer. Those are childish things. As a child I learned to instinctively close my eyes, and fold my hands. I remember my brothers and I peeking to see if everyone was doing it right. Tattling on each other inevitably backfired, because then you had to explain why your eyes weren’t shut. And in the end, none of these things made the prayer any more or less valid. It was just what you did.
There are all sorts of these outward things people do. I don’t care if you are Christian or not. There are things that become a law to you, matters of decorum, respect and so forth. The Pharisees began to see these as laws that had to be followed. They would concentrate on these things, and be totally oblivious to the sin that corrupted them. They relied on a ceremonial washing that had no command from God, and then would act upon their greed and wickedness the rest of the day in their business dealings, in their views of others. Jesus wouldn’t have it. Washing the outside doesn’t make the inside clean. The inside is just as important, and there is only one washing that can clean this, the baptism Jesus commanded with his death and resurrection, the baptism we were baptized into.
Yes, he who is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is washed on the inside and the outside. He does not baptize himself, but Jesus baptizes him. Then are given as alms the things that are within, and everything is made clean for us. In baptism all of you is made clean, all of you sanctified by the washing of the water with the word, because all of you is forgiven.

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