Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life.
In his Civil War book, Glory Road, author Bruce Catton demonstrates how dirty a human being can get. He recounts an episode in which a soldier leaves a prisoner-of-war camp to rejoin his old unit. His time as a POW had left him filthy beyond description. He asks his comrades to help him get clean. They take him into a river, strip off his clothes, and begin to wash and scrub. Only after this continues for awhile do the men realize that he is still wearing an undershirt. The man’s body had become so encrusted it had been impossible at first to tell the difference between a soiled piece of clothing and his own skin.
The soiling nature of sin does the same thing. From the dark thoughts we allow to fester in our minds to all the deeds of love conveniently left undone, sin does more than leave a dirty streak here and there on our souls. It makes us spiritually filthy beyond description. Left to ourselves, our hearts are so encrusted by sin that it’s impossible for us to see how lost we really are.
That’s where Jesus comes in. We didn’t see how lost we were or how far we had fallen. But he did. He took us to the river of his grace. He washed us in the waters of Baptism. He cleansed us in the blood he shed on Calvary’s cross. Now we stand before him in robes of white. Through faith in him, his forgiveness is our personal possession.
There are moments when the same old dirt from the same old sinful habits can fill us with despair. When such a moment comes for you, remember who you are and what Jesus has done. He has gone to the cross to wash you clean. He has risen from death to assure you that not one of your sins remain. Through his eyes your life is fresh, clean, and new. Your days as a filthy prisoner are long gone.
Lord Jesus, in those moments when I stumble and the stench of my old sinful habits fills the air, remind me of the washing I have in you. Fill me with your peace. Empower me to get back up and to walk again with you. Amen.