By Steve Willis
Recently I read “Salvation from a Small Boy” in the July 29, 1996 issue of Time (International Edition). Thinking of the parable-mode of preaching, I thought I might share the article and a few thoughts based on it:
Salvation from a Small Boy
So frequently the victim of nature’s wrath and other, man-made disasters, Bangladesh was savoring the novelty last week of a catastrophe averted. Moreover, Bangladeshi national pride took an upward jolt because the hero of the hour was one of their own: a young boy, whose quick reaction to a threat of grave danger saved hundreds of lives.
Abul Khair, who is 9 and a third-grader in the eastern Bangladesh farming village of Toragar, awoke as usual at dawn on July 13. Crossing the railroad line on his way to a canal, where he gathers snails to feed his ducks, he noticed a break in the rails. He realized he was looking at a potential calamity. The crowded morning express from Chandpur to Chittagong was due at any moment, and if he did not warn the crew in time, the train would derail. After rousing residents of the nearby fish farm to alert them to the danger, Abul raced home, snatched a red undergarment of his grandmother’s and ran back to the railroad. With the whistle of the approaching train in his ears, Abul clambered onto a railroad bridge near the broken section and frantically waved the red cloth. The driver slammed on the brakes, bringing the train to a grinding halt just short of the breach. The sudden stop was the first the 1,000 passengers knew of their close brush with death.
The Bangladesh Railway gave Abul a $63 reward and the promise of a job with the railroad when he grows up. Moved by the saga, many Bangladeshis sent their own checks and letters of tribute. The Rotary Club of Metropolitan Dhaka promised to finance Abul’s education through the 10th grade, and other admirers are demanding his story be written into textbooks as an inspiration to children. “It was a fabulous act by a child,” editorialized the Dhaka Daily Star, hailing Abul as a hero akin to the fictional Dutch boy who saved Holland from flooding by plugging a hole in a dike. “Now we have one heroic exploit by . . . a child of nine that can compare to any . . . in the world.”
Lessons from Parables
Jesus commonly taught in parables. Parables were lessons based on things in real life that were used to convey a deeper spiritual message. In Matthew 13, Jesus expressed this idea and noted that teaching in parables sifted hearers. It separated those who really wanted to learn spiritual messages from those who didn’t.
The account of “Salvation from a Small Boy” can be used like a parable. It is an account from life. We can further think about spiritual things, if we have a mind to do so. It is possible that you have read the first part of this article, because it was interesting, and something from daily life. But, will you continue on to consider a few spiritual things? Can we consider salvation from the Son of God A Son’s Salvation?
Compare Jesus, The Son Who Saves
Let us make a few comparisons to the account above to salvation from the Jesus, the Son of God.
Jesus became a Son, “one of us.” The little boy was one of them. The Bible teaches that Jesus took on flesh and blood to be made like his brethren (Neb. 2:14-17). He came unto “his own” to bring salvation (John 1:11). He became a “son” to Joseph and Mary to reveal the Son of God’s identifying with sons of men.
Jesus Realized the Calamity Coming
Upon Unknowing Men
The Bible says that God winked at the times of ignorance (Acts 17:30) and offered salvation through Jesus. The Law was given to proclaim sin and its dire consequences (Rom. 7:7ff). When Jesus heard of a physical calamity, a tower fell and killed a number of men, he said, “I tell you, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Men recognized physical calamities; Jesus realized spiritual calamities associated with sin.
Jesus Alerted Others to the Coming Danger
Just as the boy alerted the village, Jesus alerted the people of his day: “Repent, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). He sent apostles out teaching, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved . . .” (Mark 16:16). He made arrangement beyond that day to ours, that the apostles would teach others what they had been taught (See Matt. 28:20; 2 Tim. 2:2). Jesus said, “. . .for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke will judge him in the last day” (John 12:47-48).
Something “red” brought the salvation, Jesus’ blood: “this is My blood of the covenant, which is shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28). Jesus offered himself. By being “lifted up” himself, Jesus would offer salvation (John 3:14-16) to those rushing head-long to disaster spiritually. When we are baptized into Christ, we are “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3-4), thus coming in contact with the saving blood of Jesus.
Praise for the Son
The little boy received much praise and honor among his country men. It is a shame that many don’t seem to praise Jesus as they should. Some wish to write the Story of Abul into history. Many today are denying the historical accounts (the Gospels) of Jesus. However, if people do not confess Jesus in this life, they will indeed confess him in the next: “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
What if .. .
Consider these “What if’s” about the boy and about salvation offered by Jesus: What if the son had shown no concern in his actions for the people on the train? Suppose he went on to find the snails for his ducks? Suppose Jesus had no concern for us? As so many had sinned against God, we might think he had the right to allow us to fall into perdition. What if the boy could not find a way to signal the train? What if he was unable to make his signal seen? What if Jesus found no one to preach the gospel?
What if the son’s warning was unheeded? Disaster! Now, what if you do not heed the warning of God’s Son after he has come to warn and provide a way of escape to those who believe and obey him?
Learn the lesson of A Son’s Salvation.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 19, p. 24-25
October 3, 1996