Sermon Illustrations

This two-part story can frame a message on heaven, hope or the resurrection.

The 1989 Armenian earthquake needed only 4 minutes to flatten the nation and kill 30,000 people. Moments after the deadly tremor ceased, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw that the building had been levelled. He looked at the massive stones and Rubble, he remembered a promise he had made to his child: “No matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.” Driven by his own promise, he found the area closest to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks. Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. “It’s too late,” they told the man. “You know they are dead. You can’t help.” Even a police officer encouraged them to give up.

But the father refused. For 8 hours, then 16, then 32, 36 hours he dug. His hands were raw, and his energy gone but he refused to quit. Finally, after 38 wrenching hours, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He called his boys name, “Arman! Arman!” And a voice answered him, “Dad, it’s me!” Then the boy added these priceless words, “I told the other kids not to worry I told them if you were alive, you’d save me, and when you save me, they’d be saved, to. Because you promised, ‘No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.’”

Why did the son in this story believe his father’s promise? What difference did it make to the son that he had this promise?

It’s a promise of hope.

God has made the same promise to us. “I will come back…” He assures us. Yes, the rocks will tumble. Yes, the ground will shake. But the child of God should not fear-for the father has promised to take us to be with him.

Do we dare to believe his promise? Do we dare to trust his loyalty? Is there a cautious part of us that wonders how reliable these words may be?


Someday, according to Christ, he will set us free. He will come back (John 14:3). And to prove that he was serious about his promise, the stone was rolled and his body was raised.

For he knows that some day this world will shake again in the blink of an eye, as fast as the lightning flashes from the East to the West, he will come back and everyone will see him-you will, I will. Bodies will push back the dirt and break the surface of the sea. The earth will tremble, the sky will roar, and those who do not know him will shutter. But in that our you will not fear, because you know him.

For you, like the boy in Armenia, you have heard the promise of your father. You know that he has moved the stone-not the stone of the Armenian earthquake, but the stone of the Arimathean's grave. And in the moment he removed the stone, he also removed all reason for doubt. And we, like the boy, can believe the words of our father: "I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am" (John 14:3).

Max Lucado (When Christ Comes: the Beginning of the Very Best) Word Publishing: Nashville, 1999 page 21-22, 27.

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