Among the most memorable of His stories are those involving the joy one experiences at finding things that had been lost, such as lost sheep, lost coins, and lost sons. These latter stories, especially, were powerful illustrations about God’s great love for us as His children.
Jesus also referenced items in the news, such as when a tower crashed and people were tragically killed. No doubt He did so because He knew that such items in the news gave Him an opportunity to address even weightier matters having to do with the eternal destiny of His hearers.
Those who communicate the message of Jesus Christ today would do well to follow the pattern He laid down so long ago. For even now, some two thousand years later, whether that communication be through preaching, teaching, writing, or any other form, effective illustrations remain powerful tools for relating the truth of God’s Word.
For this reason, like so many other Christian communicators, I learned long ago the effectiveness of good illustrations. I also learned to be on the look for them at every juncture in life. And sure enough, once I did, I began to see them most everywhere.
I thought I would cite one such example form the news this morning. It comes from a short piece headlined as “Brothers Allowed Black Widow To Sting Them Believing They'd Turn Into Spider-Man: Report”. According to the article,
Three young Bolivian boys, aged 12, 10 and 8, were hospitalized on May 14 when they were each stung by a black widow spider while tending goats in their small Bolivian village of Chayanta, a town in the Andean region of Potosi.
Virgilio Pietro, epidemiology chief at the Bolivian Ministry of Health told Telemundo that it appears that the boys had poked the spider with a stick in the mistaken belief that a bite from the creature would give them powers like their comic book superhero Spider-Man.
Predictably, the first symptoms appeared within a few minutes. Their mother rushed them to a local health center. From there, they were transferred to a hospital in the town of Llallagua. And when the boys still failed to improve overnight, they were taken to the Children's Hospital in La Paz.
They arrived with severe muscular pain, sweating, fever and general tremors. Only after the administration of the proper serum against bites did they begin to improve. They were eventually discharged on May 20.
As i reflect on this news story, let me begin by saying that I am glad that the boys found medical treatment in time, and that they are better now. While the article correctly observes that black widow spiders are not usually aggressive, their bites can still be quite fatal to human beings. Therefore, it goes without saying that this story could have turned out quite differently.
But the preacher in me sees an illustration here of a far deeper sickness and a far more fatal outcome. In Chapter three of the Old Testament Book of Genesis, we read about Adam and Eve’s encounter with the serpent.
While the serpent was not necessarily aggressive toward them, he was nonetheless cunning in his approach. He fooled them into believing that just one bite from forbidden fruit would give them super-human powers. He told them they would even become as gods. Sadly, they fell for his ruse; and the outcome involved tragic consequences.
Far from enhancing their abilities and making them more powerful, the ingestion of the dangerous substance merely infected their souls with a spiritual poison called sin that would ultimately sicken them to the point of death.
But thankfully, the story does not end there. As we continue to read, we soon discover that Adam and Eve had a Heavenly Father Who loved them and came to their rescue. While there were to be many painful days ahead as a result of their disastrous bite, a divine serum would eventually be administered, resulting in full spiritual health and vitality.
That serum, of course, was the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s One and only son, applied when He gave his life to satisfy the wrath of God against the sin of mankind. And once bitten by sin, this is our only hope of salvation!
I, too, once suffered the consequences of the deadly bite of iniquity. But now, by God’s grace, I have been washed in the blood and had my soul cleansed of the power of sin. And I will forever be grateful to my Heavenly Father for not having given up on me, but staying with me until I was healed and made whole again.
I trust you share such a testimony. If not, you can. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in his New Testament Letter to the Romans (chapter 6, verse 23 NET Bible), “the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thus, the Apostle John goes on to tell us (in his First New Testament Letter, chapter 1, verse 9) that: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I’m quite sure that one bite was enough for three little Brazilian boys. I doubt they will play around with poisonous spiders anymore. For them, “once bitten” was enough. For me, the same holds true with sin. I’ve known enough of the pain it causes; and I pray God now helps me keep a healthy distance from its deadly fangs!
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