May 20, 2010
. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7b-9
Every three years India celebrates the festival of Kumbh Mela.
During a 104-day festival somewhere around 80 million people bathe in the Ganges River, in a stretch which measures less than nine-and-a-half miles.
According to Hindu legend, when the gods and demons were fighting, a few drops of the nectar of immortality fell into the river. Other drops fell on Allahabad, Nasik, and Ujjain. The Kumbh Mela rotates between these four cities.
Visiting the festival are all kinds of devotees. The Naga Sadhus wear no clothes, are covered by ash, and seem immune to variations of heat and cold. There are the Parivajakas who, sworn to silence, carry a little bell to get people out of the way. The Shirshasins stand for 24 hours and then meditate by hours, while they are standing on their heads.
Their motivation? They want to please the gods, or they want to purify themselves. Sometimes they try to do both. Many of the believers think that during the festival the river is charged with healing properties and the water carries a positive spiritual charge given to it by the sun. They believe that if they bathe in the river during the days of the festival they will be forgiven of all past sins and will become the recipients of salvation.
Me, I think their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. And their good works? St. Paul is the one who said it ... our righteousness is insufficient for salvation; we are saved purely by the grace and mercy of God.
Now these devotees are right when they think their sins need to be washed away. Even so, that will only happen when those sins are washed in the blood of Jesus. That is the point John was making: it is the blood of Jesus which cleanses.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us listen to You and not the made-up beliefs of men. Bring enlightenment and faith to those souls who have been misdirected. Open their eyes so they may see the Savior, His sacrifice, and His victory which saves. In His Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries