Crimson sin, staining red;
Spotted soul, spiritually dead.
On the roadside, left to die,
Circling vultures in the sky.
Finally humble, I plead in prayer;
Already, somehow, He is there.
My saving Samaritan, Jesus Lord—
Into my soul, salvation poured.
“How,” I ask, “how is it done?”
Through the Only Begotten Son.
And odd it seems, but it is right—
Blood turns stain to wooly white.
Blood that paid redemption’s cost,
Giving hope when hope was lost.
Now the chance to try again;
Rise up! Rise up! Rise up! And win!
First, the background.
Through the years I’m sure all of us have seen various object lessons that try to show, in some small way, the power of the atonement. Here is one: there is a clear container of water on the table representing each of us when we come to mortality, clean and pure. Then mortal life happens. We come up short. We mess up. We break covenants. We fall. We sin. To that clear water some food coloring is added. Guess what, the water isn’t clear anymore. That’s right, you die spiritually—cut off from ever returning to God’s presence. There is no hiding it, the big pitcher of stained water doesn’t lie.
Thankfully, the lesson, and our eternal welfare, does not end there. The teacher explains the role of Christ as Savior and explains that as we repent, we can be clean again. Chlorine is now added to the mix , and the water turns clear again. Then the scripture from Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
I remember, even from an early age, reading that verse and knowing it meant something significant. As an active little boy I knew something about stains: ketchup stains, grass stains, tar stains (What? Everyone doesn’t dig the tar out of the road after the city comes by and seals up the cracks?), pine sap stains, gum stains, dried blood stains, concord grape stains. . .you get the picture. To think that Christ could remove even our worse and toughest stains—our sin stains—and make us bright and white and clean and pure again was powerful.
Years later, I remember reading the seemingly paradoxical statement by Alma about those who were sanctified “and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb” (Alma 13:11). I remember thinking, “Wait, we are going to wash with blood and the clothes will come out white?” It took some more spiritual maturing to see the beauty of that verse.
More time passed, and one day I read an article in BYU Magazine entitled “The Good Samaritan and Eternal Life” (Spring 2002, see also “The Good Samaritan: Forgotten Symbols” Ensign, February 2007). It was a fascinating read about the deeper meaning of the universally known tale. The story is actually an allegory of the fall and redemption of the human race. Each of us can take on multiple roles; but ultimately, each of us is the wounded man left to die and Christ is the Good Samaritan that saves us. I would recommend a complete reading of the article.
So now we arrive in the present.
I was preparing a Sunday lesson on the topic, “Why is Jesus Christ important in my life?” As I was pondering this question one night while praying, the thoughts and concepts mentioned above all came together in this poem. These powerful but singular experiences have all woven themselves together into a more beautiful and rich understanding of why Christ is important to me.
I am grateful for Christ. I am grateful for my understanding of the gospel plan. I am grateful for second chances. . .and third chances. . .and forth chances. . .and however many chances it takes to become clean and pure again.
I am grateful that with Christ, we will win.
Written: January 14, 2017