Everybody loves a good story. And no one told better stories than Jesus. His parables of the Prodigal Son or of the Good Samaritan are timeless classics.
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. They’re a friendly and effective way to communicate.
A dozen years ago I was looking for an up-to-date parable to explain the Bible’s Good News. It was hard to find people who were familiar with sheep in Israel or fishing in Galilee. I thought a classic car might do.
God provided a 1955 Oldsmobile Holiday Coupe, turquoise and white. A friend painted a beautiful scene with the “before” rusted car sitting For Sale in a farmer’s field. Our restored car sat on the country road. The title: New Life for Olds.
On the back of the card was the explanation. What’s the Number 1 problem with a classic car? Rust. And the Number 1 problem with classic car lovers? It rhymes with rust and starts with L. Lust. And lust does to us what rust does to a car. It ruins us.
Now a classic car can’t restore itself. Someone has to be willing to pay the price to make it new. And that’s the story of the Cross. Christ was willing to pay the astounding price to make us new, to be born again.
That’s why the license on the front of the restored car reads: 2 Co 5:17. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
One year I had the car down at Cruisin’ the Coast. If you haven’t been there, it’s a sight to behold. Thousands of old cars, two lanes each way, bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see.
I had a young disciple with me who was handing out the cards with the painting to interested spectators. I was creeping along in the Olds. When I began to get a distance ahead, I pulled over to wait.
Just then two retired police officers approached. “Our wives are at the hotel and we’re supposed to be there for supper,” they explained. “Any way you would drive us a mile up the road?”
“Get in,” I replied. When they were seated, I continued. “Before I pull out into traffic, I have something to tell you. I take everything Jesus said very seriously, and he said I can’t do what you asked me.”
“Jesus talked about this?” they asked.
“Yes. He talked about everything we will ever need to know.”
“What did he say?”
“He said, ‘If someone asks you to take them a mile, take them farther than that’ (Mt 5:41). So I’ll have to take you all the way to your hotel, and you have Jesus to thank.”
As they listened to the parable of the car, the man in the back seat was enthralled. “I don’t believe it! My wife and I have been talking about this. Our religion doesn’t give us any way of knowing where we’re going. If we can know, that’s what we want!”
Here it is in black and white: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn 5:13).
Jabe Nicholson of Starkville has a 45-year career in publishing. He and his wife have seven children and a passel of grandkids. Reach him at [email protected] or visit www.uplook.tv