Sermon illustrations


Bad News

A man went in for his annual checkup and received a phone call from his physician a couple of days later.

The doctor said, “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”

“What’s the news?” the man asked. “Well, you have only 48 hours to live.”

“That is bad news!” said the shocked patient.

” I’m afraid I have even worse news,” the doctor continued.

“What could be worse than what you’ve already told me?” the patient stammered.

“I’ve been trying to call you since yesterday.”

Source unknown

Baptized but not Converted

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame became a zealous spiritualist later in life. He would often give public lectures on the subject. At one such meeting, he gestured enthusiastically while speaking and accidentally spilled a glass of water on some reporters seated in the front row. I’m “so sorry,” Doyle exclaimed.  “I seem to have baptized you, even if I don’t succeed in converting you!”

Stuart R. Strachan Jr.

The B.C.

This story deals with a rather old-fashioned lady, who was planning a couple of weeks vacation in Florida. She also was quite delicate and elegant with her language. She wrote a letter to a particular campground and asked for reservations. She wanted to make sure the campground was fully equipped but didn’t know quite how to ask about the “toilet” facilities.

She just couldn’t bring herself to write the word “toilet” in her letter. After much deliberation, she finally came up with the old-fashioned term “Bathroom Commode,” but when she wrote that down, she still thought she was being too forward. So she started all over again; rewrote the entire letter and referred to the “Bathroom Commode” simply as the “B.C.”. Does the campground have its own “B.C.?” is what she actually wrote.

Well, the campground owner wasn’t old fashioned at all, and when he got the letter, he couldn’t figure out what the lady was talking about. That “B.C.” really stumped him. After worrying about it for several days, he showed the letter to other campers, but they couldn’t figure out what the lady meant either. The campground owner finally came to the conclusion that the lady was and must be asking about the location of the local Baptist Church.

So he sat down and wrote the following reply: “Dear Madam: I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take pleasure of informing in that the “B.C.” is located nine miles north of the camp site and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along, and make a day of it…

They usually arrive early and stay late. The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that right now, there is a supper planned to raise money to buy more seats…..They plan to hold the supper in the middle of the B.C., so everyone can watch and talk about this great event…..

I would like to say it pains me very much, not to be able to go more regularly, but it is surely not for lack of desire on my part….As we grow older, it seems to be more and more of an effort, particularly in cold weather….. If you decide to come down to the campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go … sit with you … and introduce you to all the other folks. … This is really a very friendly community.

Submitted by Chris Stroup, Source Unknown

A Comedian Responds to a Lawyer

After a great act by the comedian George Ade, a renowned lawyer took his turn to speak. He began by commenting on Ade’s performance: “Doesn’t it strike the company as a little unusual that a professional humorist should be funny?” After the laughter died down, Ade responded saying, “Doesn’t it strike the company as a little unusual that a lawyer should have his hands in his own pockets?”

Stuart Strachan Jr., Source Material provided by Clifton Fadiman, Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes.

Daughter Cheating?

As a committed Southern Baptist, president Jimmy Carter was often questioned by reporters on a variety of moral issues. One day, a reporter asked, “How would you feel if you were told that your daughter was having an affair?” “Shocked and overwhelmed,” Carter responded, “but then, she’s only seven years old.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Hot Down Here

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of their hectic schedules, it was difficult for the couple to coordinate their travel plans. So the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, while his wife planned to fly down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter of her email address, and sent the email without realizing his error.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a Baptist minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack.

The widow decided to check her email, expecting condolence messages from family and friends.

But after reading her very first email, she screamed and fainted.

The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I’ve Arrived

Date: March 21, 2012 

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in.

I’ve seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was

P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!

Source Unknown

The Hunter’s Crisis

A couple of hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing. The other whips out his mobile phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps out to the operator: “My friend is dead! What can I do?”

The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: “Just take it easy. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says: “OK, now what?”

The Guardian

“In Silence”

Archelaus the 5th century (BC) king of Macedon, was once having his hair cut.  His barber, quite verbose like many others in his profession, asked King Archelaus how he would like his hair cut. His response, “In silence.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

The Jumper and the Officer

“A man was about to jump off a bridge when a police officer caught him, right in the nick of time. The man was angry…’don’t you know I have nothing to live for’. Why would you stop me from taking my own life? The police officer answered, how about this, for five minutes you tell me all the reasons you don’t want to live and then I will take five minutes to tell you all the reasons I think you should live…at the end of the ten minutes, the police officer and the suicidal man hold hands, and both jump off the bridge”



Neil Marten was a member of the British Parliament from 1959-1984. One day he was giving a group of constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the tour, the group happened upon the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, who happened to be dressed in the full ornamentation that went with his office. At one point in their interaction, Hailsham recognized the MP Marten and cried “Neill!” Not wanting to disobey the command of one so important, the band of visitors immediately fell to their knees.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

The Obstinate Lighthouse

“This is the transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95. (This is an apocryphyal story, but still useful for illustration.)

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.


Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.”


On Heaven and Hell

There’s a story of a young girl on a plane who was reading her Bible, and there was a businessman sitting next to her. He looked over to her and he said, you don’t really believe that do you?” And she said, why yes I do”. And the businessmen than said, you really believe that Jonah was swallowed up by a whale. “Well it was actually a big fish” she responded. Okay, a big fish. You don’t really believe he’s in heaven do you? And the young girl responds “well yes of course I do, and I plan on meeting him there some day. Well what if he isn’t there? The business man replied. “Well then you can meet him” she replied.

Source Unknown

One of the Major Functions of the Skin

My wife was grading a science test at home that she had given to her elementary-school class and was reading some of the results to me. The subject was “The Human Body,” and the first question was: “Name one of the major functions of the skin.” One child wrote: “To keep people who look at you from throwing up.”

Sam Jarrett, Reader’s Digest.

The Rabbi and the Cardinal

The story is told of a (true) encounter that took place between the Chief Rabbi of London, a Mr. Hermann Adler, and the Catholic Cardinal Herbert Vaughan at some formal luncheon. According to accounts at the event, the cardinal said, with a rather mischievous look, “Now, Dr. Adler, when may I have the pleasure of helping you to some ham?” The Rabbi was quick and responded, “At Your Eminence’s wedding,”.

Stuart Strachan Jr., Source Material provided by Clifton Fadiman, Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes.

Sleeping Well

Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, had quite the sharp wit. After hearing about a Roman nobleman who had passed away with enormous debts (which were kept private throughout his lifetime), he sent one of his emissaries to the auction to bid on a single item. Augustus told him to bid on the man’s pillow. His reason: “That pillow must be particularly conducive to sleep, if its late owner, in spite of all his debts, could sleep on it.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

A Smart-Aleck Question and Answer

They say that in Martin Luther’s class on Genesis, a smart aleck student asked, “Dr. Luther, since you know so much about the book of Genesis, tell us: what was God doing all that time before God created the world?”

Luther, not one to be one-upped by a smart-mouthed seminarian, replied, “What was God doing before God created the world? God was gathering sticks to make a switch to beat the hell out of people like you who ask such dumb questions!”

William H. Willimon, Undone by Easter: Keeping Preaching Fresh, Abingdon, 2009.

Transformed by an Elevator

A family from a remote area was making their first visit to a big city. They checked in to a grand hotel and stood in amazement at the impressive sight. Leaving the reception desk they came to the elevator entrance. They’d never seen an elevator before, and just stared at it, unable to figure out what it was for.

An old lady hobbled towards the elevator and went inside. The door closed. About a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly good-looking young woman.

Dad couldn’t stop staring. Without turning his head he patted his son’s arm and said, “Go get your mother, son.”

Owen Bourgaize, Castel, Guernsey, United Kingdom

Sherlock Holmes and Watson Go Camping

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are going camping. They pitch their tent under the stars and go to sleep. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes Watson up: “Watson, look up at the stars, and tell me what you deduce.”

Watson: “I see millions of stars and even if a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.”

Holmes: “Watson, you idiot, somebody’s stolen our tent!”

Geoff Anandappa

An Unexpected Friendship

Sometimes moments of forgiveness and friendship come from unexpected places. In 2018, the comedian Pete Davidson appeared on the “Weekend Update” segment of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Davidson made a crude joke about a former Navy Seal turned Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw.

Crenshaw had lost an eye in the line of duty, which became the butt of Davidson’s vulgar joke. The combination of mocking a person’s disability (especially a disability that came from serving his country in war) alongside a clear disapproval of Crenshaw’s political beliefs led to a burst of public outrage. While Davidson was making the joke, it became clear many found it in poor taste, and the vitriol aimed at the young comedian would ultimately lead him down a spiral of depression and self-loathing.

Davidson then took his anguish public, posting on the social media platform Instagram:

“I really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last. All I’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so.”

When Crenshaw heard about Davidson’s condition, he didn’t do what many do when embroiled in a public tiff: tell the offender the public scorn served him right, or make some other cutting comment at Davidson’s expense.

Instead, Crenshaw decided to extend an olive branch, befriending the comedian, and even offering words of life to a person who clearly felt lost amidst being stuck in the cross-hairs of the American public. Davidson recounts that Crenshaw reached out and comforted him: “God put you here for a reason. It’s your job to find that purpose. And you should live that way.”

Humor, it has often been said, is a coping mechanism to deal with the pain that life throws at us. But in the midst of the deep, unsettling pain of being publicly shamed, what Davidson needed was not a good joke, but forgiveness, and perhaps, even a friend who could share the good news of the gospel with him. In some ways it is ironic that a man trained to kill and destroy his enemies could be so moved by compassion that he reached out to someone who publicly mocked him and his deeply held political beliefs. But that is the beauty of the gospel, it enables us to look beyond our own reputation, our own pride, to care for others.

Stuart Strachan Jr. Source Material from Dino-Ray Ramos, “Texas Congressman-Elect Dan Crenshaw Reaches Out to SNL’s Pete Davidson After Troubling Instagram Post,” Deadline, December 18, 2018.

Weird Laws (Real)

If a frog dies during a frog-jumping contest in California, it can’t be eaten.

In Florida, there’s no dwarf-tossing allowed.

In Indiana, liquor stores can’t sell chilled water or soda

In Minnesota, any game in which participants attempt to capture a greased or oiled pig is illegal.

Atheists aren’t allowed to run for office in Texas

In West Virginia, it’s illegal to use a ferret for hunting.

Source Unknown

Where is the Money?

Years ago, the story goes, a San Diego bank hired a private investigator to track down a bank robber and retrieve stolen funds. The search led to Mexico. The investigator crossed the border and then, realizing he would need a Spanish interpreter, opened up the telephone book and hired the first interpreter listed in the Yellow Pages.

After many days, he finally captured the bandit and, through the interpreter, asked him, “Where did you hide the money?” In Spanish, the thief replied, “What money? I have no idea what you’re talking about”.

With that, the investigator drew his pistol, pointed it at the suspect, and said to the interpreter, “Tell him that if he doesn’t tell me where the money is, I will shoot him where he stands.”

Upon receiving this message, the bank robber said to the interpreter, “Senor, I have hidden the money in a coffee can, under the fourth floorboard, in the second-floor men’s room of the Palacio Hotel on Via Del in LaPaz?

“What did he say?” the investigator asked the interpreter. “Senor,” said the interpreter as he thought for a moment, “he says he is prepared to die like a man!”

Ivan R. Misner, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secrets, Bard Press, 1994, p. 41.

Why We Laugh

Scott Weems, author of Ha! The Science of When We Laugh and Why, explains that humor stems from our brains being confused about how to respond, which is why we often laugh at inappropriate times. “Whatever causes our brain confusion or conflict is likely to make us laugh,” he says. “And we all laugh at different things because we each have different thresholds for what leads to confusion, and what offends us deeply.”

Being mindful of this confusion helps me when I think my neighbor’s laughter is inappropriate or when I realize I’m the only one laughing. In other words, for me, lightening up includes allowing other people to find things funny when I don’t and not getting offended.

Taken from Alexandra Kuykendall, Loving My Actual Neighbor, Baker Publishing Group, 2019, p.144.

See also Entertainment, Happiness, Joy, Pleasure

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Humor. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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