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Sermon illustrations

History

The Cross is the Pivot of History

If the Cross of Christ is anything to the mind, it is surely everything – the most profound reality and the sublimest mystery. One comes to realize that literally all the wealth and glory of the gospel centres here. The Cross is the pivot as well as the centre of New Testament thought. It is the exclusive mark of the Christian faith, the symbol of Christianity and its cynosure.

The more unbelievers deny its crucial character, the more do believers find in it the key to the mysteries of sin and suffering. We rediscover the apostolic emphasis on the Cross when we read the gospel with Moslems. We find that, although the offence of the Cross remains, its magnetic power is irresistible.

 Samuel M. Zwemer, The Glory of the Cross, Marshall, Morgan & Scot.

The Drama of Humanity & Nations

In his excellent little book, A Testament of Devotion, Thomas Kelly describes the inward reality that governs the course of history:

Out in front of us is the drama of men and of nations, seething, struggling, laboring, dying. Upon this tragic drama in these days our eyes are all set in anxious watchfulness and in prayer. But within the silences of the souls of men an eternal drama is ever being enacted, in these days as well as in others.

And on the outcome of this inner drama rests, ultimately, the outer pageant of history. It is the drama of the Hound of Heaven baying relentlessly upon the track of man. It is the drama of the lost sheep wandering in the wilderness, restless and lonely, feebly searching, while over the hills comes the wiser Shepherd. For His is a shepherd’s heart, and He is restless until He holds His sheep in His arms. It is the drama of the Eternal Father drawing the prodigal home unto Himself, where there is bread enough and to spare. It is the drama of the Double Search, as Rufus Jones calls it. And always its chief actor is—the Eternal God of Love.

Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion, Harper & Bros., 1941.

Finding Lost Treasure

In 1991, a yet-to-be-identified flea market enthusiast discovered a simple picture frame to his liking. Securing the purchase, the shopper returned home only to discover an ancient document hiding inconspicuously behind the frame. Thinking little of the discovery, he continued about his life. Two years later, a friend stumbled on the document and investigated its origin. The rest is history. The four – dollar frame had hidden a first – edition copy of the Declaration of Independence reportedly worth north of one million dollars.

This accidental discovery is not isolated. There was the contractor who found $ 182,000 in a bathroom wall he was remodeling. A three-dollar Chinese bowl later sold at Sotheby’s for $ 2.2 million — it was a treasure from the Northern Song Dynasty. Then there was that California family who stumbled on a can of ancient gold coins in their backyard valued at $10 million.

To borrow Calvin’s words from Bill Watterson’s iconic comic strip, “There’s treasure everywhere.”  Not only do treasures of gold and silver lie hidden everywhere around us, but priceless ideas do as well. History is the story of ideas lost and found, disappearing and reappearing time and again to the surface.

A.J. Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World, Baker Publishing Group, 2018, Location 215.

What Did Jesus Leave to Grow?

H.G. Wells, himself an atheist, makes this point about the nature of greatness as it relates to Jesus:

More than 1900 years later,…a historian like myself, who doesn’t even call himself a Christian, finds the picture centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man…. The historian’s test of an individual’s greatness is ‘What did he leave to grow?’ Did he start men to thinking along fresh lines with a vigor that persisted after him? By this test Jesus stands first.

H. G. Wells: Quoted from The Greatest Men in History in Mark Link, S.J., He Is the Still Point of the Turning World., Argus Communications.

 

See also Illustrations on Tradition

Still Looking for inspiration?

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

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