July 26th 2009

Contagious Purity

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
Hebrews 9:14 (NIV)

I saw an interesting article a while back. The gist of it was that, in some cultures, people are more concerned about ritual purity than they are sin. People might not think twice about committing adultery, but would be horrified at the thought of not taking a bath afterward. Stealing might be a minor matter, but they are aghast if a dog happens to lick them.

They have rules about how to blow their nose, personal hygiene, animals to avoid, and rituals to restore themselves to being acceptable. The culture teaches them that certain things are emotionally repulsive-disgusting-and it is not easy to tell them these things are harmless.

The Bible has a lot to say about ritual purity. External rituals can make people outwardly clean. Hebrews 9:14 says only Jesus can cleanse us on the inside.

As an illustration, consider a room filled with darkness. Put a light in there, and the whole room is filled with light-cured of its darkness. Similarly, God comes into human flesh in the form of Jesus to purify humanity from the inside out.

Ritual impurity is often considered to be contagious. For example, if you touch someone who is unclean, you will be unclean, too. But for Jesus, it worked in the opposite direction – his purity was contagious.

Just as light could repel darkness, Jesus could touch lepers, and instead of being corrupted by them, he healed them.

Jesus is the fulfilment of what Old Testament purity rituals pointed to. That is why the laws of clean and unclean are not required for Christians.

For people who feel morally or ethically dirty, Jesus offers cleansing. For people who feel ashamed, he offers honour. For people who feel that they have a debt to pay, he offers forgiveness.

For people who feel alienated, he offers reconciliation. For people who feel enslaved, he offers freedom. For those who feel like they don’t belong, he offers adoption into a permanent family. For those who feel tired, he offers rest. For those who are anxious, he offers peace.

Rituals offer only the need for their continual repetition. But Jesus gives us cleansing that lasts forever.

Lord, thank you for Jesus Christ who cleanses me and restores me.

Study by Joseph Tkach