I thought I’d heard every allegory, comparison, or simile one could imagine when it came to preaching. I’ve heard a pastor use M&Ms to make a point about generosity, and I’ve listened to a Bible study leader equate Job with ants. Those may not be at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are certainly a far stretch from comparing Jesus with a lamb or a shepherd.
Still, when a preacher starts talking about trailer hitches and latigos on Easter Sunday, you can be sure of two things. First, you are in a Cowboy Church. Second, you are going to experience an exciting sermon, and when he brought belt buckles into the equation, the humor made a point that was hard to miss. If you are wondering how these items can be used in an Easter message, you are in the same place I was Easter morning.
Before going into the sermon itself, I must make another point. If you’ve never heard traditional hymns performed by a country group with a steel guitar, you have missed something. With that said, I had one regret on this Easter morning. They did not sing “The Old Rugged Cross.” They did last year, and it was unbelievable. This year, one of the group did a solo of “He’s Alive.” It was amazing.
All right. Let’s get back to the message. To keep this as short and sweet as possible, the message was simple. Cowboys, boaters, and campers trust their expensive trailers, equipment, and livestock to a simple little steel ball every time they hook up their treasure to a truck. In the words of the pastor, a cowboy will trust tens of thousands of dollars worth of his stuff to a twenty-dollar trailer hitch ball. He went on to use a “ten-dollar latigo” and a fancy belt buckle to emphasize his point.
You don’t want the trailer hitch to break. You don’t want the latigo to break while you ride, and you certainly did not want Pastor Tim’s belt buckle to fail during the sermon. The pastor is a bit on the hefty side if you get my drift. Cowboy humor aside, the pastor used these examples to make his point.
As with the items mentioned above, we seem to treat the resurrection as one small part of the story. After all, Jesus raised people from the dead, and the Bible tells stories of others being called back to life, at least temporarily. Even today, we hear stories of people being clinically dead, but coming back to life due to modern medicine or miraculous means. In reality, the resurrection is one of the essential aspects of the story. Without it, we have nothing.
That was the point of Pastor Tim’s sermon. Without the resurrection we have nothing. The crucifixion of Jesus was horrible. He suffered greatly, and as the Bible teaches, he was a substitutional sacrifice for humankind. However, many creatures were sacrificed to atone for sins in the past. None of those sacrifices led to a guarantee of salvation and eternal life. By itself, the death of Jesus was not enough.
The question then becomes why was his sacrifice not enough. As the pastor saw it, the resurrection was necessary because Jesus said it was necessary. He said he would be crucified, buried, and rise again in three days. If he had not been resurrected, He was either deluded or a liar. At best, if he were not resurrected, he was simply another prophet. Another teacher, spreading a message. A message with no more validity than the preaching of others attempting to ride His coattails.
The resurrection is the trailer hitch to which we can hitch our future. It is the latigo that will keep us riding toward eternity with the Father. It is the belt buckle that holds our faith and hope together.
As with any sharing of a pastor’s message, these are my words, not necessarily the pastors. This was the message I heard him speak. To listen to the sermon yourself, click here. It is well worth a look.