You know those pretty soaps you can get at farmer’s markets and cute little boutiques? The ones with glitter and swirled colors? They look like they’ve been cut from a giant loaf of soap? These are my new favorite splurge.
They add a little fancy to a mundane task, a little happy to a mindless part of your day. And the scent! Oh, the scent! You can smell it before you even get to the sink and it stays on your hands for hours.
Which is, of course good when you have a 6 year old boy who thinks washing hands means wiping them on a towel. I can tell from 3 feet away if the boy actually scrubbed with soap or not!
On Monday, I started a new book called Secrets from Ancient Paths by Andy Cook. It’s a little devotional based on historical places and insights from ancient Israel. It’s a simple, encouraging book with beautiful pictures from the Holy Land. The first chapter focused around Psalm 24:3-4,
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
The ancient Jews were serious about this clean hands thing–they had all kinds of baths and washing rituals (which sadly, did not include fancy soaps). In my Bible in 90 days adventure, I read through all the rules for the people and the priests for bathing before they entered the tabernacle or temple. They are overwhelming!
These detailed rules, these seemingly over-ritualistic washings were to show the people how incredibly dirty sin is and how holy and clean God is. It was an object lesson of sorts, letting the people see with their eyes something they couldn’t know on their own.
So. Water cleanses hands. In reality, the washing of hands is a reminder of sinful, dirty hearts. It wasn’t cleansing the Israelites’ sins. Just showing them they needed cleansing. It was a symbolic cleansing.
How do we get to the real cleansing? When does the sin really get washed away?
Remember the story of Jesus turning water into wine? It might be his most famous miracle. It was his first miracle, too. And when you read it, it seems like he doesn’t even want to do it. Almost like, why did they include this in the Bible? Why is it important? It doesn’t heal anyone or bring anyone closer to the Father. What was the point?
Well, let’s walk a little further…when is the next time you see Jesus handling a cup of wine? It was at the Passover meal with his disciples, sometimes called The Last Supper. He takes the cup of redemption and says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20). This is where we get the bread-and-wine Communion celebrated in Christian churches around the world. Jesus did another object lesson here showing us that the wine symbolized his blood. His blood, that in just a few short hours would be poured out for all mankind.
Why did Jesus plan to have his blood poured out? What does Jesus’ blood do?
So. Water cleans our hands.
Jesus turns water into wine.
Wine symbolizes Christ’s blood.
His blood cleanses us from unrighteousness.
From the Old Testament to the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he was giving us a glimpse, a picture of what His purpose was. All the miracles from the wedding at Cana to the symbols at the Last Supper to the ultimate miracle of the Resurrection all point to his great desire for us: to be made clean by Him and then continue in a close relationship with Him.
Family idea: Go to the store and pick out a beautiful piece of scented soap with your kids. Read Psalm 24:3-4 and 1 John 1:7 (or Hebrews 9 with your older kids) and talk about how our sins dirty us up. Then have everyone wash their hands with the new soap. Pray together, with hands folded—but folded by their noses so they can smell the soap on their hands, reminding them of how Jesus washes away our sins.
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