The first time I returned to Brazil after my mission, I saw some graffiti that caught my attention. I have thought about it often over the years, including this Easter weekend as I witnessed the baptism of three granddaughters. Scrawled on the wall of a building were the words “Cristo é o sabão!”—meaning “Christ is the soap.”
The image recalls a simile used by Malachi, who said that the Lord is “like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2). Fullers used a strong alkali soap to remove dirt, oils, and other impurities and to bleach and thicken the cloth. The process of fulling involved beating or stomping the cloth in a soapy solution of water.
How like the process of spiritual cleansing. We are commanded to repent. This is like scrubbing. We must exert ourselves to cleanse our lives from sin. When I was a missionary in Brazil, women would pound our dirty wet clothes against washing boards or even rocks to get them clean.
But scrubbing is not enough. Purification requires more. It requires powerful spiritual soap to make our scarlet sins white as snow, or as wool that has been cleansed and bleached by a fuller (see Is. 1: 14).
This cleansing agent—or spiritual soap, if you will—is the blood of Christ. The scriptures say that the redeemed will have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). To join this heavenly host, we too must launder our lives in the salvific soap of the Savior’s Atonement.
Worlds without end, we can never be clean and unspotted from the world without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. With it, however, we can become not only clean but glorious and resplendent. Like my granddaughters as they emerged from their baptisms clean, serene, and radiant in their new white dresses. Or like the Savior on the Mount of Transfiguration, whose “raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them” (Mark 9:3).
The Atonement of Christ is a cleansing agent more powerful than any fullers’ soap. It not only cleanses us from sin but transforms us and makes us new. Just as my granddaughters were not only washed clean by the waters of baptism but symbolically reborn of water. They now shared then same gospel re-birthday. I told them that they were now spiritual triplets.
Such is the power of Christ’s Atonement to cleanse, purify, and make us new. “Cristo é o sabão” indeed!