Then I cried out, “I’m doomed! Everything I say is sinful, and so are the words of everyone around me. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful.”
One of the flaming creatures flew over to me with a burning coal that it had taken from the altar with a pair of metal tongs. It touched my lips with the hot coal and said, “This has touched your lips. Your sins are forgiven, and you are no longer guilty.” – Isaiah 6:5-7
Under Old Testament law, what went into the mouth made people unclean. Jesus turned that on its head and made clear that it was what came out of a persons mouth that made them unclean, and that was only out of the overflow of a sinful heart (Matthew 5:11). In either case, it was the coal from the altar that cleansed Isaiah’s sinfulness and washed away his guilt, and even made him a candidate to say “Here I am… Send me.”
Fast forward to Jesus saying, “This is my body, broken for you… This is my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sin.” As we take the sacrifice from the altar, the broken body and poured out blood of Jesus, the Lamb, and touch it to our lips, our sinfulness is cleansed and our guilt is washed away. Now this is symbolic, but the tie-in to Isaiah is unmistakeable. The Lord invites us into His presence (or comes into ours), touches our lips with the sacrifice of Christ, cleanses us, then speaks to us, envisions us, blesses us, compels us, and commissions us…
I am a man of unclean lips…. As I daily choose to place my faith and hope not in my own goodness, but in Christ the sacrifice on the altar, as I choose to take His broken body and poured out blood to my lips, both through communion and through my words, His grace washes over me, my sins are forgiven, and I am no longer guilty.
Father, I do proclaim Jesus with my lips, I do declare with my lips His death, burial, and resurrection. Please forgive and wash away my guilt this day. Help me to help others find you and this great gift of cleansing this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.