Yes, I am a bit childish and I still laugh when I see the words ‘Clean me’ on a filthy van or car, such as the inscription in the picture. Actually, you could easily write on our car just now (that’s why I got a black one). Why Sarah hasn’t cleaned it yet I don’t know. I joke.
On a more serious note, ‘Clean me’ is exactly what New Year is all about. In the Old Testament, God changes the calendar of his people to match up, not with the growing seasons, but with the epochal event of the Exodus, which is the Old Testament’s key picture of salvation. This is outlined in the beginning of Exodus chapter 12: The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.’ (Exodus 12:1-3)
In other words, for God’s ancient people, the New Year marked God’s amazing work of salvation, and of providing a sacrificial lamb to die instead of the people. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we read, ‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.’ (1 Corinthians 5:7) As we start a New Year, may we do so with the same sense of wonder that the Israelites ought to have had as they thought of the grace and mercy of God and the fact that the blood of sacrifice is what can ‘clean me’ from my sins.
In fact, our wonder should surpass theirs, as we know that the true sacrificial lamb was Jesus Christ. He is the one who loved us and gave himself for us.
Let’s respond to God’s grace by living to serve him. And let’s not be content to serve him half-heartedly, but may 2021 be a year in which we grow in our sense of living each day unto the Lord – living to please him.
Let’s end with the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:1 ringing in our ears: ‘Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.’