Washed Clean

A powerful demonstration of redemption. Adjust your explanation of sin and redemption according to the age of your audience.

You will need:

  • Two clear glass bowls
  • A jug of water
  • Iodine Tincture (77p from the Chemist/Pharmacy)
  • Film Fixer (£3.99 from a camera shop)
  • A hankerchief – even better when slightly starched as it turns blacker in the iodine

Jesus Christ was a remarkable man: he said remarkable things, but even more remarkable were the things he did. I don’t just mean amazing things like healing the sick, or even rising from the dead, although that is the most incredible thing that only the Son of God could do.

No, this morning, I want to show you something quite special that illustrates what Jesus did for us, and continues to do for us as the Saviour of the World.

I have here, in these very bowls, some water, as you can see: plain ordinary water. Now these two bowls represent the world, and as the world is over 70% water, it is quite right that they are full of water.

Now, here I have a hankerchief, a plain ordinary handkerchief, and I think, even, that it’s clean. This handkerchief represents us, people in the world; and as you can see, when I dip it into the clean water, it stays nice and bright and shiny.

However, the world isn’t really as clean as all that is it? There are lots of nasty things going on, people killing each other and hating each other, simply because they live in the wrong part of town, or because they have different colour skin; people arguing and stealing and telling lies, all things that make God very sad about the wonderful world that he created: failing to love God, failing to follow God’s laws and failure to treat other people as we want to be treated.

So, to show this, I am going to add a few drops of some of this badness into the bowl of water [add iodine tincture, just a little, because I am sure that there is just a little bit of badness in the world, not a lot, but see what happens – the little bit of badness spreads throughout the earth and makes the water all mucky and brown.

What happens when I dip the nice clean hankie into the water now [put hankie in iodine solution, and it goes black – it makes it dirty and stained: we are affected by the badness in the world, and we are marked by it; see how the hankie goes black – and sometimes we even make the badness worse by adding our own badness: a bit of lying, a bit of cheating, a bit of stealing and a bit of failing to love God as we should. We call this turning away from God, ‘sin’.

Now, in this other bowl, we have a slightly different world, a world which is touched with the love of Jesus Christ in it [containing a solution of film fixer and water: he loves each and every one of us, no matter how discoloured and dirty we think we may me, no matter how clever we are or how we look, he simply loves us no matter what

Watch what happens now, if I take the cloth that is us, marked with sin, and put it in the Jesus bowl, [put cloth in fixer bowl, and it will turn clean again it takes away our sin, and makes us clean again, and you can see that the hankie has gone back to white again, as it has been touched by the love of Jesus. If we allow ourselves to be immersed in Christ, then we are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.
However, and I think this is the clever part, this story does not just end with the wiping clean of us, and the making of us clean from sin: watch what happens when I take the cloth that has encountered the love of Jesus, and put it back in the dirty, sinful old world again [put the cloth from the fixer back in the iodine solution – the iodine will clear and the ‘water’ will be clean again, the love of Christ which has changed you, has the power to change the world, and the effect of sin can be overcome.

Jesus Christ did this, because he was the Messiah, the Son of God Just as he turned this cloth back clean, so Jesus makes the world clean – as the Saviour of the World – he brings good news to the oppressed, binds up the broken-hearted, proclaims liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; comfort to all who mourn. Jesus did that by dying on the cross and by rising again to defeat death – defeating death for us all – that is why he really and truly is, “the saviour of the world”

[dispose of the water carefully, as it is both poisonous