The late, great Christian comedian Jerry Clower once told the story about the time he and his cousin, Marcel Ledbetter, joined the Navy and took a train ride to Camp Perry, Virginia, for boot camp.
A vendor came down the aisle selling bananas, which neither of them had ever seen nor heard of before. Marcel eagerly peeled the banana and bit into it just as the train went into one of those long, dark tunnels through the Appalachian Mountain.
Marcel spit out the banana and yelled over at Jerry in a panicked tone: “You ate your banana yet?”
“Naw,” Jerry responded.
“Well, don’t,” Marcel said. “I took one bite of mine and went stone blind.”
Jerry Clower knew how to unwind a yarn. He was an incredible storyteller. But at his very best, he paled in comparison to Jesus, the master storyteller whose parables speak truth more than 2,000 years after He first spoke them.
Jesus used clever illustrations to get across important truths. People who have been in church for years may take that for granted. But go into aSunday school class with little children who are unfamiliar His stories and watch their wide-eyed responses.
You’ll hear lots of giggles when you tell, as Jesus did, about a man who had a log in his eye while he complained about a speck of dust in another fellow’s eye, or about people who can swallow a camel but strain at a gnat, or about the person who hid a lamp under a basket, or about the difficulty of a camel going through the eye of a needle.
Jesus’ parables, which are stories containing deeper meanings, were altogether engaging. Huge crowds gathered around Him to hear these stories, and, of course, to see Him perform great miracles, like healing the sick, making the blind see and the deaf hear, allowing the paralyzed to walk, and even raising the dead.
In his days as a Christian comedian, Jerry Clower made people happy with his stories. But, more importantly, he pointed people to Jesus who holds the key to true joy.
Any of us who would like to bring joy into our little corner of the world might follow Jerry Clower’s example. His fun-loving approach to storytelling was accompanied by a much more important message of a Savior who loves us so much that He shed his blood on the cross at Calvary so that we might be cleansed of our sins.
Like Jerry Clower’s cousin, we might think we’re blind if we all of sudden plunge into a dark tunnel. But we’d be truly blind if we didn’t see the great love Jesus has shown us through His willingness to come down to earth from heaven, to teach us important truths, and to die on the cross so we wouldn’t have to.
Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.