It is into an unclean and defiled world that the Messiah came. Since defilement and uncleanness are spoken of so little in the church today, one might conclude that the issue of defilement is a non-issue in the New Testament. That is not the case. The problem of our defilement is still just as significant an issue in the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament, as important in the Injil as it was in the Tawrat. Jews in the first century had not ceased obeying the purity laws and thus the Old Testament teaching on purity and defilement was very much in the mind of the those listening to the message of the Messiah, especially since these issues were everyday issues.
Ironically, when the religious leaders were seeking to put Jesus to death they were unwilling to enter Pilates’s house in order to not be defiled and be unable to eat the Passover (John 18:28). Being unclean still makes one unfit to be in the presence of God, that is, one whose uncleanness remains will not see God. This is made abundantly clear in Revelation 21. The great hope of mankind is that God will dwell with his people in the new Jerusalem, but this great hope is only for those who are clean. “Nothing unclean will ever enter [paradise], nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
Washing is necessary if one wants a share in Christ, that is, an inheritance in the salvation he provides. When Jesus was about to wash Peter’s feet, Peter objected, “You shall never wash my feet.” Peter rightly saw that Jesus was too great to do menial and dirty tasks, but he failed to see that being washed by Jesus was his only hope to be made fit to be in God’s presence. Jesus replied to him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Peter was then eager to have his whole body washed, but Jesus replied, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:8, 10).
Being clean still matters.
Other posts in this series
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 1: Introduction
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 2: The Danger of Defilement
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 3: Distinguishing between the Clean and Unclean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 4: What Makes One Unclean?
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 5: Uncleanness is Contagious and Defiles the Camp
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 6: Defilement and Purity in the New Testament
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7a: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7b: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Baptism
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7c: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Death and Resurrection
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 8: The Incarnation Was Necessary for Our Cleansing