For the Fifth Sunday in Lent
From “Sitting on the Rainbow”
Scripture Reference: Psalm 51
Preparation: Bring a small bottle of vegetable or olive oil, a damp cloth, and soap.
Have you ever gotten oil on your hands and then tried to wash it off with water? Does the oil rinse off? (Let children respond.) No, it doesn’t come off with just water, does it? What else do you need to get oil off your hands? (Someone may offer the correct answer.) Right: you need soap.
Psalm 51 talks about getting clean. King David wrote this psalm after he had done something very wrong. He was sorry for what he did, and he asked God to forgive him and make him clean again. King David wrote, “Wash me thoroughly and cleanse me from my sin. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (v. 7 author’s paraphrase).
King David didn’t really need soap to get himself clean. He needed forgiveness from God. Forgiveness is a little bit like soap, though. When we sin, we may try to cover the sin up, to ignore the “dirt” or to hide it from others. We may tell ourselves, “Well, it’s not so bad what I did; other people have done it, too.” That’s like trying to wash dirty oil off our hands with water; it doesn’t work.
Just as we need soap to get oil off our hands, we need Jesus’ forgiveness to come clean from our sins. God wants us to admit that we’ve done wrong. This is called confession. And when we confess to God that we’ve done something wrong, God forgives us and makes us clean inside.
I brought oil with me this morning, so let’s experiment with it. I’ll rub oil over my hands and then I’ll try rinsing it off in this bowl of water. (Do this now.) I’ll let some of you feel my hands. (Let those nearest you check your oil.) Did the oil come off? It didn’t, did it? You can’t really see the oil, but it’s still there. And sometimes other people may not know about our sins or see our sins, but God knows—God knows us completely. He knows we need forgiveness. The sin sticks to us sort of like the oil sticks to my hands.
Now let’s try soap. (Wash with soap and water; dry your hands. Then have kids check again.) Are my hands finally clean? Yes, now they’re clean, but I needed the soap to get clean, didn’t I? We also need God’s forgiveness to make us truly clean inside.
The next time you need to get really clean—clean inside—remember that only God’s forgiveness can wash away our sin. And remember that God is happy to forgive us because he loves us.
Prayer: We’re sorry, dear Jesus, for the times when we do the wrong thing. Thank you for forgiving us and making us clean inside.