Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Christianity is sometimes called "a wet faith." It is full of the idea of washing. In our reading of Titus 3:4-7 we have a clear statement that the regeneration brought by Jesus is a washing away of sin.
Many Christians, especially in the United States, are uncomfortable with the idea of baptism being an effective washing. We like to think of it as our work, a work of testimony, a confession that we have believed Jesus is the savior. In contrast, passages like this one in Titus 3 confess that baptism is the work of God. In Christ, not because of our works, our goodness, our love for God, but because of his love for us, we receive his washing. He is the one who does the cleansing.
Does this passage say specifically that Jesus washes us from sin in baptism? Not precisely. But its use of the image of washing in conjunction with the idea of regeneration has always suggested to Christians that the water of baptism is to be seen as effective. Not our work, but God's work in us.
Through Jesus, furthermore, we become heirs of a great inheritance, the hope of eternal life. This hope is not a vague possibility or a suggestion that if we live well enough for Jesus we might make it to eternal life. It is a confidence that he will be able to deliver the inheritance to us.
In this Christian faith, then, we are washed by God and presented before him, in purity, all by God's mercy in Christ. Our job is to await the final fulfillment of the promised inheritance.
As we remember these great promises of God, particularly in the season of Christmas, we realize that Jesus has come, God with us, to rescue us from sin and death. This is something we could never do. It is something we would never do even if we could. At the heart and center of it all, Jesus is the one who washes us and gives us what we need for life, in this world and into eternity.
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