Clean by His Word. John 15:3

Posted on December 15, 2011 by


John 15:3  “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you”

This short verse is packed full of insight into Jesus’ amazing grace and mercy.  Notice three things:

Our Need of Becoming Clean  To 20th Century Westerners, this idea of being clean seems to be a nice notion, but to Jesus hearers it was nothing short of revolutionary.  You see, Jews of that day spent much of their time thinking about being clean, staying clean, or cleansing themselves of their ceremonial uncleanness.  In the Levitical law there were hundreds of dietary and Sabbath laws and thousands of other extra Biblical regulations regarding being clean.  If you were found to be unclean, like the lepers who covered their mouths in the marketplace crying, “Unclean!”, you were not only excluded from worshiping in the Temple, you were also excluded from the daily life of the Israelites since you were a threat to make others unclean by being in contact with you.  There were then elaborate rituals you were to go through in order to become clean again, such as sacrificing animals at the Altar.  A God fearing Jew knew exactly what he could do and not do to remain clean, and exactly how to become clean again.

Fortunately, we have progressed as a society past such barbaric traditions, right?  But the desire to become ‘clean’ is still ever present in our minds and hearts.  How else do we explain the elaborate ways that we deal with our guilt and our anger? We are guilty about what we have done to others and angry about what others have done to us, and we strive to feel clean again.  We crave forgiveness, yet do not know where to find it.  We want to forgive others, but wind up holding on to our bitterness and find that we are the ones who are unable to forgive.

Jesus Method of Becoming Clean  In order to become and remain clean, Jews needed to work very hard.  And when they were able to keep the Law and other regulations around it, they became very proud of their accomplishments.  If they failed in their efforts, they were crushed and isolated from the community.   Two thousand years later, we often find ourselves in the same dilemma!  Either we are successful in our efforts in finding life and run the risk of becoming proud and self righteous, or we fail and are depressed.  Neither option is a good one.  The beauty and power of Jesus’ teaching is that He declares them to be clean already!  They are clean because of the power of Jesus’ word to make them clean. Keeping the Law (or any rules we have to make ourselves good enough for God) is impossible, but Jesus has given us His righteousness!

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:21, 22

The Cost of Becoming Clean  The next verse in Romans is a familiar one to most of us.  Romans 3:23 says, ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’  In order for us to become clean, someone must pay the penalty of our sin.  If I break a lamp at your house and you forgive me, I am forgiven, but you absorb the cost of the lamp!  In the same way, God is able to forgive our sins and make us clean because He has paid for our sin by sending His Son Jesus to die on a cross.   The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus is our Righteousness!  We were so sinful that Jesus HAD to die for us, yet so loved that He was GLAD to die for us.  This ‘imputed’ righteousness makes us humble yet at the same time confident.

In this Christmas season, one of my favorite carols is Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  The third verse reflects this great truth of Christ’s making us clean!

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His Wings.
Now He lays His Glory by,
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the New-born king!”

Jesus is ‘Risen with healing in His Wings!’  And if we follow Him He will make us clean.

ASK:  Am I relying on my own efforts to become Good enough for God?

APPLY:  In this Christmas season take time to reflect on the great price Jesus paid in order for us to become clean.