Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

'Insignificant' General Grant Goes Unrecognized

God often hides his greatest gifts in ordinary packages. Perhaps, knowing our heart, he doesn't want us to become enamored with the mode of delivery. And all so that we might better appreciate the gift being offered.

So we must be careful about presumptuously prejudging the appearance of ordinary circumstances, ordinary days, or even ordinary people.

In his recent biography simply titled Grant, Ron Chernow tells the story of Ulysses S Grant's meteoric rise from store clerk to Civil War hero and beyond. By the fall of 1863, Grant had overseen successful campaigns in Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Suddenly, national leaders and politicians who just months before would have hardly recognized his name now sought to rub shoulders with the Union's hope of victory. In October of that year, on his way to a meeting in Louisville, Grant was approached by Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and Ohio Governor, John Brough. Chernow describes the encounter:

While Grant and Stanton had communicated via telegraph, they had never set eyes on each other. Short of breath, asthmatic, snuffling with a heavy cold, the short, stout Stanton barged brusquely into Grant's car, eyed the officers present, and then began to pump the hand of a bearded man with an army hat whom he assumed was Grant. "How do you do General Grant?" he cried. "I recognize you from your pictures." Stanton was embarrassed to learn he was shaking hands with Grant's medical director, Dr. Edward Kittoe.

Chernow explained: "Stanton later admitted that in guessing which officer was Grant, he had eliminated the real Grant because he looked much too ordinary and wasn't the prepossessing figure he had imagined."

Born in an insignificant town, to unknown parents, in humble surroundings, Jesus was missed by many. He was overlooked because "he looked much too ordinary and wasn't the prepossessing figure" some had imagined.

Today Jesus can still be missed. We can extend our hand to something that looks like joy; while real joy sets humbly by. We can pointlessly pump the hand of what we think will deliver peace; within reach of the Prince of Peace.

Related Sermon Illustrations

No Seat for the CEO

Pastor Kevin Miller writes:

One year when I was working in publishing, we had our annual staff Christmas Party. There were about 150 people in the room seated around tables that held ...
[Read More]

Cab Driver Praises Hero John Elway Before Realizing He's Driving Him

We've all been asked the question: "If you had the chance to talk to your hero, who would it be and what would you say?" Washington, D.C. cab driver Sam Snow didn't ...

[Read More]