Clean hands As Bobby Moore climbed the Wembley steps to receive the world cup from her majesty the queen in 1966, he can be seen attempting to wipe his hands on his shorts. An interviewer later said to him, “It must have been a wonderful experience to lift the cup in front of a home crowd”. “No”, he replied, “It was terrifying. As I went up the steps I saw that the queen had on some beautiful white gloves. My hands were filthy with the Wembley mud. I thought, “How can I shake hands with her like this?” If he was worried about shaking hands with the queen, how much more should we be worried about standing before the King of kings? We don’t just have filthy hands, but our lips, minds and hearts are all tainted with sin as well. As one hymn writer puts it, “Eternal Light! Eternal Light! How pure the soul must be, When placed within Thy searching sight, It shrinks not, but with calm delight Can live and look on Thee.
O how shall I, whose native sphere Is dark, whose mind is dim, Before the Ineffable appear, And on my naked spirit bear The uncreated beam?
That is a good question. It reminds us that our greatest need is spiritual and moral cleansing. But how? In chess there is a move called the “King’s gambit”. The idea is that one of the pawns is deliberately sent out to be sacrificed. If the opponent takes the bate and removes the pawn then the king is saved and the game is won. The story of Christmas is the exact opposite. It is the deliberate sending out of the King Himself to be sacrificed to save the pawns! The wise men who came to Bethlehem in search of the new-born king understood that. They brought gold which was fit for a king, frankincense which was used by the priests and myrrh which was used to anoint the dead. Somehow they knew that this King had come to offer the sacrifice of himself for sinners like us. The apostle Paul says on another occasion, “For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. In other words, He took our dirt and gave us His beautiful white perfection so that we can stand before the King of kings without fear of rejection. There are times when our children seem to enjoy the rapping more than the present itself. At least the box can sometimes offer hours of fun long after the gift has been laid to one side. How sad it is then, that God’s great gift of His Son is so often ignored while the tinsel, the turkey and the trees are regarded as such a vital part of Christmas. Why not spend some time this Christmas really considering why on earth God should so love a world like this that He should send the most precious thing He had to save it?