We’ve all heard many times that thorough hand washing is the single most effective step in slowing the spread of infectious diseases. If we can’t use soap and water, now we have hand-sanitizers that kill germs and then quickly evaporate.
I was washing my hands at a restaurant once, when one of the employees came out of the toilet and left without washing his hands. I reported him to the manager. His behavior was unsanitary.
A Pharisee once invited Jesus to his home for lunch, and to his shock, Jesus did not wash his hands. But his shock was not like mine. The ancients knew nothing about infectious diseases or sanitation. Jesus simply neglected to perform a ceremonial washing dear to the Pharisees.
Evangelists exhort everyone to invite Jesus into our hearts, but as the Pharisee found, inviting Jesus can be uncomfortable. He does not act according to our expectations, and he will never apologize to us for anything. But his response to the Pharisee has a great lesson for us.
The Pharisees washed not only their hands (in a way that probably did not get them really clean), they also had ceremonies for washing all of their utensils. Their big public display of washing meant nothing. Jesus’ host washed his hands and then rebuked Jesus for not following a ritual.
Nowadays we wash our hands for twenty seconds with warm water and soap. We take baths or showers. And we don’t use just any water from a stream, lake, or shallow well. Ours has come through a water treatment plant. We clean our bodies and dishes more thoroughly than that Pharisee could ever clean his.
But what about the inside? No amount of water can wash the inner person. That takes light. IThat takes blood. t may be uncomfortable inviting Jesus into our hearts, but he is the Light of the World. Only his blood can make us fully clean.