Revelation 1:5

"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood."

Matthew Henry comments on today’s passage: “Sins leave a stain upon the soul, a stain of guilt and of pollution. Nothing can fetch out this stain but the blood of Christ; and, rather than it should not be washed out, Christ was willing to shed his own blood, to purchase pardon and purity for them [His people].” Our sin and depravity render us unclean in the sight of God, and so we must be cleansed if we are to stand before Him unafraid. On a physical level, it takes water to cleanse dirt from our bodies, our clothing, and so on. Spiritually speaking, only the blood of Christ can wash the sin from our souls (Heb. 10:1–10). So, the washing of water in baptism is an ideal way to remind us of the spiritual washing in the blood of Jesus that we need to be forgiven of our sin.

Baptism carries with it the promise that if we have faith, God will wash us in the blood of Jesus and in His Spirit just as surely as water washes our physical bodies clean (The Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 69). To be washed in Christ’s blood, the Heidelberg Catechism tells us in question and answer 70, is to be forgiven of our sins because of Jesus’ atonement on the cross. Our Savior’s blood does not have mystical or magical properties—it is true human blood consistent with Christ’s true humanity. The significance of His shed blood lies in it being a sign of His atoning death. Our Lord’s death on the cross under the curse of His Father paid the price for our sins. It satisfied the Father’s wrath, allowing God to be just and the Justifier of His people at the same time (Rom. 3:21–26; Gal. 3:10–14). For men and women to be saved, a man had to die—the God-man, Christ Jesus.

Christ’s death, Henry reminds us in the aforementioned quote, was a willing death. The Father did not force Jesus to the cross against His will; rather, the Son of God willingly humbled Himself and obeyed His Father in His incarnation and atonement (Phil. 2:5–11). In eternity past, the Father, Son, and Spirit entered into a covenant to save a people for the eternal glory of the triune God. The Father purposed to receive His Son’s death as a covering for the sins of His people. The Son willingly offered Himself through the Spirit to wash us clean from sin. The Spirit agreed to apply this work to those of faith, signifying and sealing it in baptism.

Coram Deo

Baptism reminds us who believe that we are washed clean of our sin on account of the blood of Christ. His death atoned for our guilt, enabling God to forgive us without compromising His justice. When we see the water of baptism, we should be reminded of the great sacrifice of Jesus, who poured out His blood— His very life—for the sake of His people. May we never consider this truth lightly but rejoice in what the Lord has done for us.

For Further Study