Sermon Illustrations


In the late nineteenth Century in South Africa, an old man was digging for gold in a river bed. He had been at it for many years. Every now and then he found a little bit of gold, not enough to make him rich – but just enough to maintain his interest.

The part of river in which he was prospecting was quite new to him - and there were more signs than usual of the presence of gold. He was quite excited - gripped by the gold fever, but, once again he found little of substance.

As his dig neared its end, he found himself exhausted and discouraged. He was just about to go home one evening when he saw some pebbles. He liked the look of them, so he slipped them into his pocket. There were about a dozen of them.

At home he got out a tin and put the pebbles into it. The tin was special – for it was filled with very personal items, letters from his son, a photo of his wife who had died some years before, the collar from his old dog who had died 18 months earlier. He put the tin back on the shelf in a cupboard and forgot about the pebbles he had found.

Another ten years went by and he still hadn't made that gold strike that he had so longed for. By now he was very old, and ill, with no ready money to pay for a doctor - he died.

A few days later the police came to his house. They looked through his belongings to see if there was anything they could sell--to pay for his funeral, but they found nothing of any value. Even his house was just an old wooden shack falling to pieces.

And then they found THE TIN. As one of the officers looked through it, he gasped with surprise. "Look at this" he said to his partner. He was pointing to the pebbles the old man had placed in that tin 10 years earlier. "They`re uncut diamonds!" he said, "They're worth a fortune!"

The old man had INDEED been very rich, but had died thinking that he was very poor - because he hadn't looked closely enough at what he thought were just ordinary pebbles. He'd spent the whole of his life searching for riches, but had missed the FACT that those pebbles were the answer to his longings.

We are so familiar with the stories surrounding the Nativity of Jesus that we don’t realise what riches we can find in them. However, if we look carefully we can find gems.

(From a sermon by Martin Dale, John the forerunner of Jesus, 12/5/2009)

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