Prayers Answered in the Wounds of Christ: Part II: Cleanse Me!
Prayers Answered in the Wounds of Christ
Part II: Cleanse me!
Ezekiel 36:23-27, 37:23, Titus 2:11-14
† I.H.S. †
May your awareness of the grace and mercy of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ convince you that your prayers are answered, that you have been made Clean!
Shamed among the Nations
In our reading tonight, there is a phrase that really makes me want to hide.
There, in verse 23, God tells Israel that they brought great shame on His name, that they ruined His reputation across the entire world. That is how bad their sin was, that all the world through bad about God because of how evil they acted.
Some might wonder what they did, I think the Apostle Paul described it well,
29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. Romans 1:29-32 (NLT)
Sounds like a pretty bad crowd, doesn’t it?
Maybe, the words you said a few minutes ago described them accurately, as well,
Father in heaven, I have lived as You did not matter, and as if I mattered most, I have not honored your name by using it to praise and pray, I have not let your love rule my life, and so I have failed to love others. There are people I have hurt and failed to help. My thoughts, my words, and actions have been soiled with sin….
That puts a different perspective on it, doesn’t it?
Is God talking about our sin as well as Israel’s?
As we take time during Lent to slow down, part of that journey is to realize how sin breaks us down, how it damages us. But part of the damage it does is to how other people see our God. To think about that helps, us realize how serious sin is, that even the smallest sin reflects on the God we claim to love, the God we claim to believe in, the God we trust, the God we adore.
Our brokenness reflects on our God, much the way that our behavior once reflected on our parents and the way they raised us, or the way people would think we raise our children when they misbehave when they were younger.
Our sin reflects on the God who created us, who died on a cross to save us.
That is pretty serious, a hard thing to digest, and it should trash our hearts when considering the words of the hymn,
“For it was my transgression, which brought this woe on me…”
Though we know that isn’t the end of the story, it takes a moment to understand that our sin impacts God, and His work to redeem mankind. SO take a moment, and think about that…
Your sin, my sin brings disgrace upon God.
Our cry for cleansing…
This is why the hymn talks about casting our lives down before Jesus, about the fact that we deserve His wrath, but knowing that we dare to cry, have mercy! Don’t send us away.
Cleanse me. Strip me of my sin.
And faith is simply trusting Him to do so, that He would be faithful to the promise of bearing our sins, of cleansing us from them. Of loving us enough to hear our cry, and clean us with His blood.
Something he promised all along,
Think about those readings we heard earlier,
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away!”
“I will save them from their backsliding I will cleanse them, then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.”
“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, to make us His very own people.”
The same promise, over and over… the answer to our cry, to cleanse us,
He cleansed us…
As He always intended, as He promised, He made us His own, and welcomed us into His presence, into His kingdom.
What a comforting thought, when all we can dwell on is the realization that we brought Him shame, and He loved us enough to clean us up. That sacred head, so wounded, weighed down by grief and shame. Shows us the depth of His love for us!
Which is wonderful, glorious, incredible, unbelievable.
And as we look upon Him, as we consider His wounds, we find our prayers answered, we find that He has made us His own, by cleansing us, and calling us to dwell in peace!