Sermon on “Washed by the Blood” (Baptism of Evergreen Daniel Douma)

Sermon for Sunday, December 17th, 2023 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

 

Old Testament reading:

[Isa 6:1-6 ESV] 1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

 

New Testament reading:

[Heb 10:11-25 ESV] 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

Gospel reading:

[Jhn 9:1-15 ESV] 1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”

 

 

Introduction
I’ve asked hikers before, “how long has it been since you’ve had a shower?” This wasn’t how I started off a conversation, but was something I’d ask later (usually after they had showered) out of pure interest. Where was the last place you could get a shower? How long has it been since you’ve washed (yourself and your clothes)?

I had thought that my peak achievement of five days hiking without a shower was something notable. It was greasy, just awful. Couldn’t sleep at night for how dirty I was and how much I smelled. But other hikers have told me 9 days, 14, days, a month without showering.

How long has it been? How long has it been since you were clean?

As today is the baptism of my son, Evergreen Daniel Douma, I’ve chosen to preach on baptism; specifically the cleansing waters of baptism which point to the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. We are “Washed by the Blood”; the blood of Jesus Christ.

I. The reality of our dirtiness

The reality we find ourselves in is a reality of dirtiness. Spiritual uncleanness. Complete filth. Sin has left a crimson stain. A stain that is stubborn. No amount of our own scrubbing can clean it. No process known to mankind can rid it from us. We are mired in sin, surrounded by it, and are guilty of it.

Sin starts with Adam and so we are all guilty with him as we share in his human-ness and descent from him. But we also sin ourselves and so are dirty not only from association with other, but dirty from our own sins.

[Isa 64:6 ESV] 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

I want to be clear here. We don’t just “sometimes sin” and so are “sometimes dirty.” Sin is our nature. It leads to actual sins, but even when we are not actively sinning (which isn’t very often), we are still by nature sinners.

And, I want to be clear, our dirtiness is no light matter.

If you’ve ever seen a Persian rug being cleaned, you’ll see that with each pass of the water hose and each pass of the vacuum, more and more dirt comes out. It is endless. There is surface dirt, middle dirt, deep dirt, and dirt on the other side of the rug! You might say “there is some rug on the dirt.”

That is a more accurate depiction of our state. It is dirt through and through.

At first, man was man in the image of God with righteousness, holiness, and knowledge. But at the Fall of man into sin, the dirt (out uncleanness in the eyes of Gd) was piled on us, and in us, and under us, and through us.

You’ll often here people say “There is good in everyone.” But the Bible tells us, contrary to this, “no one does good, no not one.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

And so Job laments “[Job 14:4 ESV] 4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.”

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing?

This is our existential problem. How do we get clean? An unclean thing can not be used to make something clean. You can’t use a dirty rag to clean something, for it will get as dirty as the rag.

Maybe you’ve had this experience when painting? You get a little paint on something by mistake. So you use a finger to clean it up. Then, it happens again and again until you run out of clean fingers. And you’ve got paint on your shirt, on your paints, on your shoes, probably on your hat too. It’s like something out of Laurel and Hardy. And nothing is left that is clean. You’ve got nothing to clean up a miss with because everything is a mess.

Or consider cleaning a house. When a room is a real mess, in order to clean it, you’ll probably need to move some things into another room for a time. But what if every room is a mess? What if the house is full to the brim like a hoarder house? How do you clean it?

That is our situation. Every finger is dirty. Every room is a mess. We need OUTSIDE help!

II. The need for washing

So our hope is not in ourselves, nor in some remnant of good within us, but our hope — our only hope is in Jesus Christ. We need the blood of the spotless lamb to clean us from our sins.

You can’t do it yourself. You are not clean. You can’t have someone else guide you into holiness, for they are sinners to. You need Christ.

Paul recognized this:

[Rom 7:18 ESV] 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

We need to be washed. We need to be cleansed. And our only hope is Jesus Christ.

III. The washing of Baptism

Throughout the scriptures the idea of physical washing is used as a metaphor of spiritual washing.

Psalm 51:2 says: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”

and just five verses later it says:

[Psa 51:7 ESV] 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Cleanliness is important, but uncleanness leads to death. If you don’t keep good hygiene you could get leprosy or some other ailment.

And spiritual cleanliness is of greater importance, because sin leads not only to death but to eternal damnation.

So the Psalmist desires to be “whiter than snow.” He knows that IF GOD DOES IT, he will be whiter than snow. He has confidence in God.

Indeed God says in Ezekiel:

[Eze 36:25 ESV] 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
Jesus continues the use of that metaphor, especially in John’s Gospel.

In our reading, Jesus put mud on the blind man’s eyes and had him wash it away, miraculously bringing back his sight. Jesus said these great words: ‘”Go to Siloam and wash.”

That is what he calls us all to do. To have our sins washed away.

In John 13, Jesus washes the disciples feet and said “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Also, profound words.

So it is clear that we are sinful and that we need to be washed, and that it must be by Jesus Christ who is the spotless lamb. But then what? We have to make sense of the Baptism of WATER that we are called to in the New Testament and our salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ. These are related.

Baptism is a symbol. As the dirt is washed off by water, so our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ.

In the Old Testament the blood of the lamb was sprinkled on the high priest to make him and his garments holy.

And at passover the blood of the lamb was sprinkled on the doorpost. This is really an understatement. The way this worked at Passover and on other occasions is that there was a basin full of blood and they would take “a bunch of hyssop” — a plant with lots of branches and little leaves — and they’d dip it in the blood and then shake it at the door. The blood would come off in sprinkles.

So we read again God’s promise in Ezekiel:

[Eze 36:25 ESV] 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.

The sprinkling of water in baptism, like the sprinkling of blood in the Old Testament all point to one thing. What is it? The Blood of Jesus Christ shed for you on the cross. He was scourged with withs, a crown of thorns piercing his skin, and spear through his side. The blood of Jesus Christ was sprinkled forcefully upon the ground at Golgotha, at the cross of Calvary.

The blood of bulls and of goats did not take away any sin. And the water of Baptism does not take away any sin. But they point to Jesus Christ, and it is by his blood that sins are forgiven.

We are, praise the Lord, washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Paul 1 Corinthians 6:11 says of those who have sinned but who have been redeemed

[1Co 6:11 ESV] 11 And such were some of you. 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.

And the author of the book of Hebrews, in verse 10:22, tells us that “our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

It is Christ who saves us. And Christ alone. You know the song: What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Peter says the same thing. Baptism, he says, “now saves you” but it is not the water that does so. It is not the “removal of dirt from the body” but as “an appeal to God.” It is Christ who saves, and Baptism points to Christ.

So Ananias says to Saul upon his conversion “[Act 22:16 ESV] 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” On whose name do we call? In the context it is “the God of our Fathers.” And so we baptize calling on the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In doing so we have the promises of God. Baptism is not just a symbol, it is a promise. This is the word I like to use. You often here “sign and seal.” I like “symbol and promise.”

What is the promise of Baptism?

It is that “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sin.”

[1Jo 1:7 ESV] 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

[Eph 5:25-27 ESV] 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

So powerful is the blood of Christ, that you need be washed only once. While you take communion in remembrance of Christ on a regular basis, your baptism was a single occurrence. But each time we witness a baptism we see the grace of God visualize and remember His promise, and take courage in knowing that our sins are washed in the blood.
Peter says (1 Peter 1:19) that we who call on the Father are to know that we were ransomed not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, purifying our souls and making us born again through the living and abiding word of God.

Good Christians, rejoice. Your sins are washed away.

Conclusion:

Let us conclude with that. Your sins are washed away. Trust in the promise of the Lord, and know His peace. Let us pray.