You can probably recall the last two sermon illustrations that you heard quicker than you can the point of the sermon. Why might this be? Stories paint mental pictures that connect with our attitudes and feelings as well as our intellect. That’s one reason that Jesus told so many stories and parables. Here are some simple, effective and short illustrations that you can easily learn and readily apply when sharing the good news.
A Designated Hitter
Earning our way into God’s favor is like a baseball player trying to get into an imaginary All Universe Player’s Association. Acceptance requires a minimum twenty-year career batting average of 1,000, with no strikeouts. It just cannot be done, no matter how good the ballplayer. The entry requirements are too high. That’s what God’s standard is like. He requires us to be as morally perfect as He is. We must always think and do everything that He wants and never step outside the boundaries of His commands. We just cannot do it, no matter how good we are. The benchmark is impossible. Thankfully, Christ, our substitute (“designated hitter”), met the standards for us. As the God-Man, in life He took our place and always thought, spoke, related, chose and acted perfectly for us. He then hit a “sacrifice fly” by dying in our place to pay the full price for our shortcomings. Three innings later, he “stole home” by rising again to provide righteousness. Trust Him!
A Trustworthy Airplane
A woman who had never been on an airplane wanted to fly from New York to Los Angeles but was hesitant. Since she wanted to feel confident about the trip, she studied all about the physics of aviation. She Googled how often mechanics overhauled engines and checked hydraulics. She researched which airline had the safest record and the most experienced pilots. Feeling good about her findings, she then went to Orbitz and purchased the best flight. Before departure, the lady went to the airport, joined the ground crew for the pre-flight safety check and even interviewed the pilot, only to stand on the ramp and watch the plane takeoff without her. She had all the information needed to be confident of a good decision but failed to enter the plane by faith in what she knew. Many people know all about the Bible, the Gospel of Christ and the forgiveness and new life available for trusting Him. They just never “get on board” by actually trusting what Christ has done for them.
Grading On A Curve
Remember getting graded on a curve? The teacher lowers the grade scale to match student performances. It means that instead of a perfect score (100%) automatically being the top grade even if no one gets it, teachers use the ACTUAL highest score achieved by a student as the highest possible. So for example, if the highest score in the class is a 90% and you have an 85%, you can still end up with an A even though an 85% is generally a B.
Of course, someone can blow the curve. That means that someone scored 98, 99, or 100% which makes grading on a curve useless because it’s the same as not using a curve.
People often assume that God is like a school teacher who grades on a curve. However, the Bible tells us that God “grading on a curve” is a false hope. God is completely just and therefore must judge all sin, even “average” sin. To remain morally perfect, he must retain the standard of moral perfection for our behavior. He cannot grade on a curve by comparing our righteousness with that of other people. His standard is His own moral perfection.
The good news is that, while God does not grade on a curve, he did something even better. He took the test in our place, got a perfect score and blew the curve! Jesus Christ did that by living a perfect life in our place and then dying to pay the perfect penalty for our sins. His resurrection proves his perfection. God applies Christ’s grade to all who believe Him. Why not trust Him to apply His perfect score to your grade book?
You can easily develop your own illustrations by watching TV, reading books and listening to conversations. Just stay tuned to the life around you to help illustrate the life available in Christ.