"Truly I say to you, unless you turn around and become like young children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of the heavens."
As she was putting on her shoes before church, she noticed that her hands were getting dirty in the process. Mud from days before of playing outside had gathered, dried and become hard and crumbly. I hurried her along, nudging her to quicken herself as to not be late for church.
We were about a block from the building when she spoke up from her carseat just a row behind me. She was concerned; troubled.
"Mommy! I am dirty! I have to get clean before we go to church!"
...and the Holy Spirit spoke to me...
'Isn't that the same thinking that keeps so many from the church to begin with?
And so, slightly troubled myself and tearful, I spoke to my young daughter gently.
"No, Nora. We don't have to wash you before we get to church. We can wash you at the church. There is water there that we can use to get you clean. It's ok if you're hands are dirty before you go. We'll clean you when we get there..."
I smiled back at her and she quiety said, "Ok mommy."
And the Holy Spirit was still speaking...
'That's the trouble, you see. So many people think they can wash themselves. They think that they can get themselves clean and then someday make it to church; and therefore Christ. But they cannot and therefore they will not. The church is full of dirty. You have all been filthy dirty and some still are. But I am the washer of hands and feet. And I will clean you. All of you.'
And I thanked Jesus for the opportunity to teach my young children about Him in the midst of our every day. I thanked Him for making me aware of His spirit and His guidance when something comes from the mouths of my children that can easily be a teachable moment. I thanked Him for making me aware. Awake. Alert.
And for cleaning me; washing me. Refining me.
Jesus knows us best, doesn't He? Did you have this kind of thinking at one point in your life? Do you now? The truth is-you cannot do it. You will fail miserably to get yourself 'clean' before you decide to come to Jesus. He is the purpose for the desire you have to do so anyway. Why not let Him?
He is your daddy, and He can handle it.
All of it.
You see, in His church, there are many who have fallen short and who have come dirty.
Rotten, smelling, dirty, sweaty, grungy, filthy, messy.
But in His church are also those who have gotten clean. Washed in the blood that He shed for us. Washed by forgiveness and a covenant of mercy.
Our God, Lord Jesus, died for us in a filthy and disgusting way.
[He's been there.]
Humiliated, shamed, naked and alone.
So that we could become clean.
So that we could become clean.
Did you know that?
Do you grasp it?
At the start of this Easter week, I want to begin by reminding you of the thief who hung on a cross next to Jesus on crucifixion day. The scene was set. Jesus had just endured many hours of agonizing pain and humiliation. He carried the cross that He was going to be nailed to in order to die as a sacrafice for a world that He knew would turn their backs on Him. But He did it, knowing.
His hands had already been pierced into the wood of the tree. His feet, crossed at the ankles had already been penetrated by the deepest, thickest nail. He was bleeding and being continuously tortured.
There were two thieves, one on either side of Him. Can you imagine it? Our King of Kings hanging between two thieves in mid-air, suffering?
One thief pleaded with the accusers of Jesus, asking them to allow Him down. The thief said, "We derseve to die for our crimes, but this man has done nothing wrong." And then he acknowledged Jesus as Lord and asked Him to remember Him when Jesus comes into the Kingdom.
What happens next is my most favorite passage in the entire Bible and has been since I got saved (and clean) many years ago.
Jesus looks at the thief and so readily says to him, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise!" (Luke 23:43)
The thief was a mess. He was a thief!
He was rugged, dirty, unclean and tarnished.
And yet, just by simply acknowledging Jesus, and speaking to Him as God--
that thief was washed clean.
Forgiven. Awakened. Renewed.
And that thief is in Paradise today.
So you see, it's that simple.
If you didn't understand it, or have not done it...
1.) Acknowledge Jesus as God.
2.) Speak to Him as such.
3.) Ask Him to remember [forgive you].
And be washed clean.
Renewed. Awakened. Purified. Perfected.
What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.