Sermon Illustrations

Ivan the Great was the tsar of Russia during the Fifteenth Century. He brought together the warring tribes into one vast empire. As a fighting man he was courageous. As a general he was brilliant. He drove out the enemies and established peace across the nation.

Ivan was so busy waging his campaigns that he did not have a family. His friends and advisers were quite concerned. They reminded him that there was no heir to the throne, and should anything happen to him the union would shatter into chaos. "You must take a wife who can bear you a son."

The advisers searched to find an appropriate wife for the great tsar. They reported to Ivan of the beautiful dark eyed daughter of the King of Greece. She was young, brilliant, and charming. He agreed to marry her sight unseen.

The King of Greece was delighted but had one condition, "He cannot marry my daughter unless he becomes a member of the Greek Orthodox Church." Ivan’s response, "I will do it!"

A priest came to Moscow to teach Ivan in Orthodox doctrine. Ivan learned the catechism in record time. Ivan made his way to Athens accompanied by 500 of his troops--his personal palace guard.

He was to be baptized into the Orthodox church by immersion.

His soldiers asked to be baptized also. 500 priests were assigned to give the soldiers a one-on-one catechism crash course. All 500 of them, were to be immersed in one mass baptism.

500 priests and 500 soldiers, a thousand people, walking into the blue Mediterranean.

The priests were dressed in black robes and tall black hats, the official dress of the Church.

The soldiers wore their battle uniforms with of all their regalia--ribbons of valor, medals of courage. and their weapons of battle.

Suddenly, there was a problem. The Church prohibited professional soldiers from being members; they would have to give up their commitment to bloodshed. They could not be killers and church members too. After a round of diplomacy, the problem was solved quite simply. As the priests began to baptize them, each soldier reached to his side and withdrew his sword. Lifting it high overhead, every soldier was totally immersed-everything baptized except his fighting arm and sword. That is a true historical fact. The unbaptized arm.

What a powerful picture of Christianity today. Many have yet to be fully immersed, and reconciled themselves to be dead to sin and crucified with Christ. Hold wallet up…hold workplace up…hold calendar with every other day but Sunday on it up…