March 24, 2010

Cleansing From the Cross

Haggai 2:10-19

“If a person [who is] defiled … touches one of these things, does it become defiled?”
Haggai 2:13


When I visit people in the hospital these days, I see a lot more dispensers of hand sanitizer than I used to. They’re in every hall and every room. For the protection of both themselves and the patients, anyone who visits someone in the hospital is encouraged to sanitize their hands before and after every visit. It’s a good way to help prevent illness from spreading.

If only we could spread health as easily as we contract disease. You can catch a cold from a sick person, but you can’t catch the cure from a healthy one. Today’s Bible reading illustrates that same point on a spiritual level. Haggai reminds the priests that touching something consecrated does not transmit holiness. But everything touched by an unclean person becomes unclean as well.

According to Jewish law, few things defiled a person more than touching a dead body. But do you remember Nicodemus, the Pharisee who visited Jesus at night (John 3:2)? He resurfaced when he helped with the burial of Jesus (John 19:39).

With a touch of gracious irony, the death of Jesus became the very thing by which the healing power of God’s holiness became available to a defiled world. Coming into contact with Jesus, who died, heals us of sin, our greatest disease.

Apparently Nicodemus came to believe that. Do you?

“Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole.” Thank you for healing us by your wounds and for giving us life through your death. Keep us always close to you. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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