Jesus and Bicycles
How Much Do They Cost
by Greg Wright
Once there was a woman who had an eleven year old son. They lived alone: her husband left when the child was two years old. Life was very hard. Sometimes she juggled two or three menial jobs just to buy groceries and pay rent. Nevertheless, she was a Christian, and she trusted God to give her strength.
Her son did not understand his mother's faith. Indeed, he resented being poor, and he often complained against his mother and against God. He also resented the God-centered rules and restrictions that his mother imposed. Instead, he wanted to be able to live life by his own rules, without having to answer to anyone, especially her. When she went against his will, he often lashed out with angry words.
How he longed for the day he would be free, free from his mother, free from the church and the Bible, free from these chains that dragged him down. As for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he saw no need to be saved from his sins. After all, for him sin was fun.
"Mother," he said, "You say that I'm sinning, but I'm only doing what I like to do. What's wrong with that? As long as I don't hurt anyone else, God shouldn't care, and neither should you."
In spite of her son's rebellion, the mother loved him deeply. One day she noted that even though her son was eleven years old, he had never owned a bicycle. So she decided to buy him one, but not just any bicycle; she would buy him a nice one, an expensive one, a bike in which he would take pride.
However, to save up the money she needed, she would have to work even more hours. It would require working nights and weekends, but she was willing to pay the price.
Unfortunately, this caused conflict at home. Her son couldn't have friends over to spend the night, because she often worked past midnight. As for the weekends, she often worked those, as well, leaving few opportunities for recreation. Because she wanted the bicycle to be a surprise, she wasn't able to explain the reason for working these extra hours.
She persisted, and finally the day came when was able to buy the bike. When she presented it to her son he was amazed. He hugged his mother. He thanked her over and over again. In fact, for a long time he was more courteous and respectful.
Meanwhile, his mother made a rule. Because of the value of this bicycle, it was never to be left outside at night. Every evening, the boy was to bring the bicycle into the kitchen, even if the wheels were muddy.
The boy gladly complied for a while. Then he became careless. Again and again his mother cautioned him to be more careful, but to no avail. One night the bicycle was stolen.
Suddenly the boy was sorry. He was sorry that he had lost his bike, but he was even more sorry that he had been so careless with something that had cost his mother so much.
His mother was angry and hurt. Yet, she quickly subdued her anger when she realized that this was an opportunity to teach her son about God.
"Son," she asked, "Do you remember how much I had to pay for the bicycle?"
The boy hung his head. "Three hundred dollars, Mom I'm really, really sorry."
His mother put her arm around him. "Son, you are sad about losing your bicycle. Part of the reason you are sad is that it was a very nice and expensive. Son, is Jesus worth as much as your bicycle?"
The boy pulled away from his mother and looked at her in bewilderment. "What kind of question is that? Why do you always have to bring God into everything?"
"Son, you were created to glorify God, and you will glorify him in one way or another. You will either glorify him by surrendering to him as your lord and savior, or you will glorify him forever as the well-deserved object of his eternal wrath and judgment."
She continued, "Son, you were impressed by how much it cost me to buy you that bicycle. But look at what it cost Jesus to provide a way for you to be reconciled to God. Consider what Jesus went through to pay for sins.
"Yes I know," the boy replied with disinterest. "He died on the cross."
"He died. This is easy to say isn't it," replied the mother. "The Son of God bled and died for his people. But how do you price this? What kind of price tag would you put on his suffering and death? What about the pain? How much was it worth to have that whip tear the flesh off his back, five hundred dollars? How would you price the crown of thorns that dug into his head, five thousand dollars? What about the nails that went through his hands and feet, the spear that pierced his side? Get your calculator and add it up. What kind of price tag would you put on all of this?"
Suddenly the boy frowned and raised his hand. "Mom, I get the point, okay?"
She leaned forward and looked right into his eyes. "No, you don't get the point. You at least assigned some value to that bicycle. But you have taken the priceless gift of the Son of God, the only hope you have of going to heaven, and you have discarded it like a worthless piece of junk. On that day when you face the judgment of God, remember this; remember how you despised the precious gift of his son.
The boy threw down his hands and stomped out of the room. Then he went into his bedroom and slammed the door.
Alone, the mother dropped to her knees and buried her head against the couch. Tears flowed freely. Finally, when she could speak, she looked up towards heaven and pleaded with God to have mercy on her son.
Meanwhile, the boy lay on his bed. The ear phones from the stereo fit snuggly against his ears. With the volume turned high, the pounding rhythms of the music easily silenced the quiet voice of conscience.
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