Once upon a time in a far-away land far,far away, a young man named Joshua announced the discovery of a marvelous new kind of soap. People were skeptical at first, but they soon found that this new soap made everyone very happy because it got them so clean. Because it was so powerful, it got rid of dirt and stains that had been around for years.
Because Joshua’s soap worked so well, men found that they had more time to spend with their wives and children. Marriages got better, people were happier, and everybody admired the young man who had given them the soap. Joshua refused to charge for the soap and gave it away to all who asked for it. This bothered some rich people, but the poor loved it. Not surprisingly, the manufacturers of rival kinds of soap soon became very angry because their business was being hurt badly.
Before long, Joshua had followers who were traveling around the country, giving away the new soap to all who asked for it. Of course, this new soap was an instant success because the people of Joshua’s country had been trying for years to make themselves clean with their own homemade soap. Thousands became great fans of the new soap, and they formed small groups to spread its use. The other soap manufacturers became desperate and tried to get Joshua to charge for his soap, but he refused. He said, “I prefer to give it away, because no money would be adequate payment for a soap as perfect and complete as this one is.”
When the soap manufacturers found that this strategy wouldn’t work, they started a smear campaign against Joshua and his followers. They said that the soap made cleaning too easy – that you should have to work harder to get things clean. They also said that Joshua and his followers were immoral because they had been seen in the company of the dirtiest people in the world. Joshua smiled when he heard these charges, and said, “Although everybody needs soap, it is the dirty people who need the soap the most!” These slanders didn’t work because the common people realized that Joshua truly loved them and that is why his soap was free.
Since their other tactics failed, the rival soap manufacturers plotted to kill the young man. They paid an informer to betray Joshua and then arrested him. They paid witnesses to perjure themselves in court, and finally they were able to have Joshua convicted of trumped up “crimes” and executed. The soap manufacturers were certain that this would take care of the problem, but to their dismay Joshua’s followers continued to distribute the soap. Persecution of the followers didn’t work either, for Joshua’s followers kept spreading to new areas and kept giving away the soap.
After many years, the rival manufacturers decided to try the policy of “if you can’t beat ’em then join ’em.” So they analyzed Joshua’s soap and came up with a very clever substitute, which looked the same, but, of course, it didn’t work. They used the same name for their soap that Joshua had used and organized a promotion campaign to corner the market. Because of their organization and slick advertising, they made great progress and even got many of Joshua’s followers to join them for a while.
Soon, however; these infiltrators started to charge for their counterfeit soap, and, because their distributors had replaced many of Joshua’s followers, many people had to buy the soap now – and their substitute didn’t really work! However; some people read Joshua’s instructions and those of the early users of the soap and discovered how they could get it for free! Because of Joshua’s written instructions, down through the centuries there were always groups who distributed Joshua’s real soap for free.
After several centuries the leading soap manufacturers decided that they needed a publicity gag to stir up interest in their counterfeit version of the soap, so the started Soap Crusades to go back to Joshua’s homeland and try to recover the original bucket in which he had first made the soap. Mighty armies were raised because Joshua’s homeland was now in he hands of some people that didn’t believe in Joshua’s soap. These Soap Crusades resulted in wars and the deaths of thousands of people and much destruction and heartache. Many true followers of Joshua protested against these campaigns, but were killed for their efforts. Finally the Soap Crusades ceased, but they did stir up a lot of interest and sold a lot of the counterfeit soap.
Several centuries later, when soap sales were lagging again, the manufacturers decided to use force to make people buy their soap. They started an intricate system of spies to report on people who didn’t use the “right” soap. They also used a group of zealous torturers who called themselves the ‘Investigation’ to torture people suspected of not using the manufacturers soap. Many people were killed by the Investigation for using Joshua’s soap, and yet, Joshua’s soap continued to be passed out to all who asked, for free!
After a few more hundred years, a whole new kind of attack on Joshua’s soap began. This time the charge was made that Joshua’s written instructions were not really reliable. This attack came from two directions. The first group of attackers said that the instructions were missing some very important parts that the evil rival manufacturers had taken out in centuries past. Various of the attackers claimed that Joshua, himself, had come and appeared to them, giving them special authority to “restore” the lost instructions. Of course, the attackers all had different versions of the “restored” instructions and none of them were even close to being in agreement with each other. In many cases they weren’t even in agreement with Joshua’s instructions. Even so; they were able to deceive some of the users of Joshua’s real soap.
The second group of these attackers used a more “intellectual” attack. They called themselves the “Elevated Critics” who said that the instructions didn’t really mean what they said, and certainly they weren’t the final authority on how to get clean. They told the people that Joshua was just another good man who had high ideals, but his wasn’t the only soap around. So they took the “mythology” out of Joshua’s instructions and left an empty shell, which couldn’t clean anyone, in its place.
Well, about 2000 years have gone by now, and Joshua’s true soap is still available free, and people are still getting clean and being happy. And there are those who try to peddle a similar but counterfeit kind of soap for profit or power. Now, there are some who say you, really, can’t get clean, but a little soap is a good thing and everybody ought to have some, but don’t go overboard! Others worship books about the original soap. Still others have Joshua’s true soap, and have found that only through his power can they become clean.
In our parable, Joshua’s soap is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel (which means “GOOD NEWS”) could not be stamped out by the “rival manufacturers” or anyone else, because it was a MESSAGE, not an earthly system of priesthoods, rites and organizations. The message of God’s provision for the gift of eternal life for sinful men has endured even to our day and people are still getting “clean” by submission of their lives to Jesus Christ – ALONE. In spite of many attempts to destroy the Gospel message by eradication of the believers, or perversion of the message itself, the GOOD NEWS of what Jesus Christ did for YOU on His cross remains as viable today as it was on the Resurrection Morning.