Thoughts on Devotions – LD26
Q. 69 How does baptism remind you and assure you that Christ's one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?
Q. 70 What does it mean to be washed with Christ's blood and spirit? Q. 71 Where does Christ promise that we are washed with his blood and spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?
DeYoung, in The Good News We Almost Forgot, titles this chapter “Clean! Clean!” He points out that the Great Commission has one imperative verb – make disciples. Often people, mistakenly, assume that the main idea is “Go!”, but the emphasis is on developing and building up the church, the body of Christ. Baptism is part of the command and important in marking and helping us remember what baptism signifies – that we are washed by the blood of Christ and that, as part of the Body, we rely on the Spirit and on brothers and sisters to combat and flee sin in our lives.
Monday: The spiritual changes that God makes in his people are invisible, but baptism is something we can see. Baptism reminds us that God's promises are real and that the spiritual blessings are for the person receiving the outward sign. One important use of water is washing. Christ came to cleanse our hearts of sin. He alone can do it and he promises to do it by his blood and by his spirit for all who come to him in faith. Baptism is the seal of that promise.
Matthew 3:11-12 “I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am - I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire.”
1 Peter 3:21-22 And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you - not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God - through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him.
Tuesday: The prophets looked for Jesus' coming and the promise God's people would be cleansed of sin. The fountain mentioned by Zechariah is the blood of Christ poured out on the cross. Those “in Christ” are cleansed by that blood – it cleanses completely and God sees us as though we had never sinned.
Zechariah 13:1 “In that day there will be a fountain opened up for the dynasty of David and the people of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
1 John 1:7-9 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
Wednesday: The prophets not only promised that people would be washed from their sin, but also that they would given new hearts – to love God and to want to do his will. They would be given the holy Spirit so that they would be able to resist sin and to obey God. The catechism points out that Christ cleanses us by his blood and by his spirit. Once our sins are forgiven, the Holy Spirit enables us to live lives no longer controlled by sin. Baptism is a picture of how we have died to sin and are raised to a new life, pleasing to God.
Ezekial 36:25-27 I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations.
Romans 6:3-4 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.
Thursday: The catechism asks where Christ promises that we are cleansed from sin as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism. The answer – in the Great Commission – in which his disciples are instructed to call others to faith and discipleship, and to be baptized. The apostles baptized people as soon as they trusted in Christ.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 2:37-41 Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What should we do, brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” With many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added.
Friday: In Paul's defense in Jerusalem he told of his conversion and Ananias' invitation to be baptized, washed from sin. He also mentions in a letter to Titus the washing of regeneration and renewal. We again see Jesus' promise of making his people pure and giving them a new life and lifestyle by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.ʼ
Titus 3:4-7 But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”
Saturday: We receive the Lord's Supper often, but baptism only once. But we witness the baptism of others and we recall our own baptism. Watching a baptism is not only a reminder, but also an assurance that Christ's sacrifice is for each believer personally. It reminds us of our cleansing, of our continued need for repentance – that we are certainly forgiven – and can go forward in joyful thankful living for God.
Acts 11:15-16 Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ʻJohn baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.ʼ
1 Corinthians 6:11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Reading between the lines...
What is “allowed” in public space – consumerism and marketing are everywhere, but preaching Christ is frowned upon – it is expected that this message should remain inside the church or inside the home. Jesus said to proclaim it from the housetops – the home becomes a pulpit and we are to proclaim the Gospel into the streets. We are not to have a private faith, but a proclaimed faith – good news is for sharing. God's Word is always seeking an audience, it has always been outgoing. The Truth will out – if we don't feel something of the outgoing impulse of the Gospel we haven't yet heard it as we should. We have a faith that is to be shouted from the rooftops. George McCloud: The cross should be raised in the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves on the town garbage heap at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek, at a place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse and soldiers gamble, because that is where he died and what he died about, and that is where churchmen ought to be and what they should be about. When you know this Gospel how can you not shout it from the rooftops?
Matthew 10:26-27 “Do not be afraid of them, for nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light, and what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops.
Psalm 19:1-2 The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness.
God knows us intimately and deeply cares about our every need. Jesus urges to know God's wisdom as we go out into the world, but also assures us of God's love. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Matthew 10:30-33 Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows. “Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.
We know of losing ourselves to a larger group (e.g., a soldier as part of a unit), but these are only echoes of what Jesus is talking about. The original pattern is from before time – Jesus says that the Father loves him because he lays down his life, only to find it again. The eternal love of God is cross and resurrection shaped. Losing your love to find it is an ancient path. The generous giving and service is found in the love within the Trinity – a community of persons that finds their lives in losing them. The Father sends the Spirit filled Son into the world – and Jesus calls us to join in. In this life there are many things that offer life, but we end up losing our life. Jesus calls us to follow the path of the cross, to lose our life for him; he promises to raise us up again. Die to self and receive new life.
Matthew 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life because of me will find it.
John 10:17 This is why the Father loves me - because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again.
What is Jesus' identity - “who do people say that I am”? We should see Jesus' outgoing love for the sick, for sinners as something positive – the Pharisees saw it as a slur - “friend of sinners”. Jesus owns the title with pride. How you see yourself will have a massive impact on how you see Jesus. If you don't see your own indebtedness you won't get Jesus and others' affection for him will seem strange. If you, like the women in the story, know your indebtedness you will love Jesus and won't care who knows it. Glen Scrivener (paraphrase from here to the end): I don't picture my self as Simon, and I don't picture myself as Jesus – but I don't picture myself as the woman either. I see myself as just another dinner guest observing the scene – as a neutral bystander. I need to repent! I am this woman. I am in debt up to my eyeballs. If I knew a fraction of my spiritual bankruptcy I would be on the floor kissing Christ's feet and wouldn't care who saw me... do we really know Jesus? Do we really know ourselves? We must come to Jesus and hear his pronouncement “your sins are forgiven, your faith has saved you, go in peace!”
Luke 7:34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ʻLook at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!ʼ
Luke 7:39, 44-50 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” ...Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Can people really change? We are tempted to consider the man with the Legion as a different species to us, but Mark presents this as an extreme example of the human condition common to us all. Our struggles are reflected in those of this man in Matthew 5. If Jesus can bring peace and order to his life he can do it for any life. This is presented as a battle scene, but when it comes down to it the powers that confront Jesus do not oppose him, they prostrate themselves before him. As Jesus commands the wind an the waves, he now commands these evil forces. They rush into the abyss. Both in the NT and in modern encounters evil is not confronted with potions or incantations, but with the Word - “in the name of Jesus”. The world is afraid of Jesus' commanding confrontation, preferring to stay in darkness they ask him to go. But the healed man wants to go with Jesus, but Jesus says - go to your family and tell them of the mercy of the Lord.
Mark 3:27 But no one is able to enter a strong manʼs house and steal his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can thoroughly plunder his house.
Mark 5:6-7 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him. Then he cried out with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God - do not torment me!”
Mark 5:15 They came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man sitting there, clothed and in his right mind - the one who had the “Legion” - and they were afraid.
Mark 5:20 So he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed.
Go and do likewise... it is often assumed that Jesus is saying “go and do likewise”, but what is the point of the parable? What is the question being asked? What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus asks the man what the law says and he answers well - “love God and love your neighbor” - and Jesus says that is correct, do this and you will live. But he wanted to justify himself and asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus is telling the parable to deflate the pride of a self-justifier. In the story, the hearer is the man fallen into the hands of the thieves (the fallen man) and must determine who is the neighbor. We are fallen and religion is of no help (i.e., the priest and the Levite). A stranger is the only one who can help; he is described in the same words that usually describe Jesus. He cares for us and pays for it all. The innkeeper is given 2 denarii – implies that Jesus will come on the third day to complete the work that he has begun. Have I put myself in the shoes of the fallen man? Have I appreciated the love of the good Samaritan? Now, go and do likewise. First experience the love of the good Samaritan, then go and do likewise.
Luke 10:28-29, 37 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
...The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
The simple, child-like trusters will understand the things of God while the wise and learned will have it hidden. Where will God hide the truth? It is hidden on full display in Jesus. The good news is that the Son reveals the Father. Coming to Jesus means that we will be coming into true knowledge, coming into the true family and coming into true life. We're already yoked to something that burdens us – Jesus says lay it down and become yoked to him.
Matthew 11:25-30 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”