Sermon Illustrations

In Steven Spielberg’s film about a slave ship called Amistad, the Africans revolt and are subsequently imprisoned. The African prisoners are given a Bible with pictures in it by the abolitionists. The Africans had no idea what the book was, and they could not read in their own language, let alone English. Yamba, one of the Africans, is intently looking over the Bible in the prison when Cinque says to him, “You don’t have to pretend to be interested in that.” “Nobody’s watching me,” Yamba says. “I’m not pretending. I’m beginning to understand.” He sees a picture of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and says, “Their people have suffered more than ours. . . Their lives were full of suffering.” Turning to a picture of Jesus he exclaims, “Then he was born and everything changed.” “Who is he?” Cinque asks. “I don’t know, but everywhere he goes, he is followed by the sun,” Yamba says while pointing to the halo around his head. “Here he is healing people with his hands. Protecting them. . . Being given children. . .” “What’s this?” asks Cinque pointing to a picture. “He could also walk across the sea,” Yamba explains. “But then something happened. He was captured. Accused of some crime. Here he is with his hands tied.” “He must have done something,” reasons Cinque. “Why?” Yamba asks, “What did we do?” Yamba continues, “Whatever it was, it was serious enough to kill him for it. Do you want to see how they killed him?” “This is just a story, Yamba,” Cinque replies. “But look, Yamba says. “That’s not the end of it. His people took his body down from this. . . thing. . . this. . . [Yamba makes the sign of the cross.] “They took him into a cave. They wrapped him in a cloth, like we do. They thought he died, but he appeared before his people again. . . and spoke to them. Then, finally, he rose into the sky. This is where the soul goes when you die here. This where we’re going when they kill us. It doesn’t look so bad.”

How did Yamba figure all that out? The Holy Spirit was guiding and directing him to the truth — just as he will anyone who genuinely wants to find God. He was being drawn like a moth to the flame. Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).

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