The Object Lesson – Jesus Makes Us Clean
People are messy. Sometimes it is their own choices that make a mess of their life. Sometimes it is the things that have happened to them that have wreaked havoc. Whatever the cause, most of the people you meet in life are going to have baggage. They will be messy.
Jesus often met people who were unclean and sinful, and he specialized in making them clean. You can illustrate this using some food coloring, bleach, a glass pitcher, and a large glass vase. Before the message, fill your glass vase halfway with water, and add 3-4 cups of bleach to your pitcher. I often use saran wrap or a stretch cover to cover chemicals like bleach to minimize the odor in the room.
As you talk about all the ways someone might be spiritually unclean, add food coloring to the vase of water. You can talk about their addictions, the way they treat others, their anger or pride, and any number of other sins that make someone “unclean.” The visual you are creating is something that should be pure (water) and is not because of the sin that has been added (food coloring).
When you are ready, after the food coloring has had time to mix in, you can begin to talk about how Jesus makes people clean. Regardless of what sin we may have, Christ can cleanse all of us. As you are talking about his grace, pour the bleach into the water. It will break down the dyes in the food coloring and leave you with clear water once again.
From a science perspective, sodium hypochlorite in the bleach oxidizes the color molecules in food coloring. It doesn’t get rid of the pigment molecules, but it changes the shape so it can’t absorb/reflect light the same way. This gives the affect of it losing its color as a result of the chemical reaction
The Bible Connection – Grace Abounds
There are plenty of stories and texts that speak about Christ making us clean (see below), but the attached video highlights the story of Jesus healing a leper in Matthew 8. According to Leviticus 13:45-46, lepers were constantly unclean. Their ceremonial uncleanliness was so severe they had to remain outside of the community and remain separate from everyone, including their family. In fact, when they saw travelers coming down the road they were supposed to back away and declare themselves “Unclean.”
In Matthew 8:1-4, instead of backing away, a leper approaches Jesus and says, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” He knows Jesus is able to make him clean, the leper just isn’t sure. Perhaps he isn’t the kind of person Jesus would want to help. You can hear the desperation in his request. Jesus, of course, is willing. He takes this man whose life had been stolen by leprosy, and he makes him whole. He makes him clean. This meant the man could go home to his family. He could go the temple and worship God. He was no longer an outcast.
What Jesus does physically and ceremonially for the leper, he can for us spiritually. He is more than willing to make us clean in God’s eyes.
Scriptures to Study and Use
Although the video focuses on how we respond to unclean people, you can certainly use this object lesson as a way invite to receive Christ’s grace. Here are some scriptures you might use to teach this idea.
David’s prayer of repentance includes a request to be made clean. He knows that if God cleanses him, then he will be truly clean. The same is true for us.
Paul describes the type of “unclean” people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Then he reminds the church at Corinth that they used to be those types of people, but they have been washed in the name of Jesus Christ.
This passage is often used to talk about marriage, but it also explains how much Christ loved his church. He loved us enough to give himself up so we might be cleansed and made blameless.
The author of Hebrews reminds us of the hope and confidence we have because our hearts have been “sprinkled to cleanse us.”