The classic children’s story by Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who, was also made into a hit movie in the spring of 2008. It is a story about a very tiny dust-speck-sized world that has come loose from its moorings and is adrift, out of control, crying out for help, in desperate need of rescue or it will be doomed. Fortunately for this tiny world of Who people, there is a great savior who hears their cry for help, and he risks all to save them. That savior is Horton, a gentle big-hearted elephant with a very keen sense of hearing.
The story begins this way…
On the fifteenth of May, in the Jungle of Nool,
In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool,
He was splashing… enjoying the jungle’s great joys…
When Horton the elephant heard a small noise.
So, Horton stopped splashing. He looked toward the sound.
“That’s funny,” thought Horton. “There’s no one around.”
Then he heard it again! Just a very faint yelp
As if some tiny person were calling for help.
“I’ll help you,” said Horton. “But who are you? Where?”
He looked and he looked. He could see nothing there
But a small speck of dust blowing past through the air.
“I say!” murmured Horton. “I’ve never heard tell
Of a small speck of dust that is able to yell.
So you know what I think? … Why, I think that there must
Be someone on top of that small speck of dust!
Some sort of a creature of very small size,
Too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes…
“… some poor little person who’s shaking with fear
That he’ll blow in the pool! He has no way to steer!
I’ll just have to save him. Because, after all,
A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
So, gently, and using the greatest of care,
The elephant stretched his great trunk through the air,
And he lifted the dust speck and carried it over
And placed it down, safe, on a very soft clover. 
Horton is ridiculed and mocked by others. He is ostracized from the rest of the community. He is believed to be a fool. He is thought to be out of his mind. He is bullied. He is set against impossible odds. He is finally bound with ropes to be caged. And, the tiny world sitting on a clover held in Horton’s trunk is going to be forced from his grasp and boiled in a hot steaming kettle of Beezle-Nut oil, before the Who people on this tiny world are saved.
A children’s story? To be sure. But, whether intentional or not on the part of Dr. Seuss, this story has some important parallels with the story of humanity. We too are on a tiny world that has come loose from its moorings and is adrift, out of control, crying out for help, in desperate need of rescue. And, we too have a great savior who heard our cry for help and risked all to save us. His name is Jesus.
He was ridiculed and mocked. He was ostracized. He was thought to be a fool. He was thought to be out of his mind. He was falsely accused, arrested, bound, beaten, and cruelly killed. And, why did this savior of ours go through all of that? To rescue us, to save us, to, figuratively speaking, keep us from being boiled alive in a hot steaming kettle of Beezle-Nut oil.
Tragedy and Loss
Humanity’s story begins with tremendous tragedy and loss. If I were to ask you what the greatest failure in human history was, you might give me answers having to do with failed structures that crushed or drowned or burned thousands of people, or failed delivery systems that cost the lives of thousands of people starving to death, or the break down of negotiations between peoples which led to war where many thousands died. All of these things would certainly be considered terrible failures.
But, the greatest failure in human history was the fall of the human race. This single event changed human history, negatively, more profoundly than any other. The impact it has had on our world and the quality of our lives is beyond description. The number of lost and damaged lives is beyond comprehension.
Believe it or not, there was a time many years ago when humans lived in perfect harmony and balance with the environment, with one another, with our self, and most importantly with God, the Creator. There was no disease or pollution. Nature was a friend. There was no fighting between people. Selfishness was not a driving force behind human activity. There was no sense of “aloneness” in us. We didn’t feel guilty. We didn’t have a heart full of unfulfilled desire. We felt completely at peace with our self, and everyone and everything around us. We knew God personally and were able to talk to him face-to-face as a friend. There was also something else about that time in human history that is really quite amazing—we didn’t die.
Of all of the creatures God made and placed on this planet, humans are unique. God gave us a very special gift that none of the other creatures was given. Rather than being driven by instinct alone, he gave us the gift of free will, making the expression of genuine love possible between us and him. Without real freedom, there can’t be real love. Having a toy with a pull string that says, “I love you,” is not very satisfying.
Along with this gift came a tremendous responsibility to use the gift with wisdom and care. God warned us at the time that if we chose not to obey and trust him, it would break our union with him and result in our death.
Unfortunately, we chose to turn away from God, misuse the gift he had given us, and the consequences have had a profound impact not only on ourselves, but on everything in this world. We lost paradise in that moment. And there has been death and conflict and disease and selfishness and injustice and cruelty and heartbreak ever since. People ask, “What’s wrong with this world?” The answer is, “We are.” Isaiah 24:4-6 describes the fallen condition of earth this way: “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.” We are a tiny world that has come loose from its moorings and is adrift, out of control, crying out for help, in desperate need of rescue.
At the moment when everything looked as though it had been lost forever, God himself made a promise to our ancestors that a day was coming when everything would be put back right again. A day when death would be swallowed up by life. A day when that which was lost would be found and restored.
The day God spoke of at that time was the day of Jesus Christ, his own Son, who he would send to our world to rescue us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
The greatest failure in human history, the fall of the human race, would require the greatest achievement in human history to overcome it. Ironically, this greatest of achievements, itself, appeared to many to be a giant failure.
Jesus Christ entered our world in relative obscurity, living in a poor little village in a small country under the dominion of the great Roman Empire. He became popular with the common people through the amazing miracles he performed and his profound teaching about God. He was credited with doing everything from restoring a blind man’s sight, exorcising demons, and raising a little girl from the dead. Even the most learned scholars of the day were awed by his teachings.
As his popularity increased, the religious and political leaders of his day began to feel threatened by his growing influence with the people. They sought to discredit him, but failed in their attempts. They tried to frame him, but were unable to. Finally, as his teachings became more confrontational and condemning of the religious establishment, they had him arrested late one night, quickly tried before a religious kangaroo court, and handed over to the Roman authorities sentenced to die. What was the charge, worthy of a death sentence? They said that he, a mere man, claimed to be God (John 19:7).
The Roman authorities took him, had him publicly stripped, beaten, and whipped within an inch of death. He was then stretched out on a wooden cross and nailed to it hand and foot. The cross was raised into the air where he was left to hang in public shame until dead. The man once believed to be the promised Messiah of God, prophesied about in the Old Testament Scriptures, died in humiliation before a scorning crowd.
If the story ended there it would be one of the most pitiful in history. But the man the religious and political leaders thought they had so easily disposed of came back to haunt them in the worst way imaginable. He didn’t stay dead. He overcame humanity’s greatest enemy—death. This was the greatest achievement in human history.
The man who had claimed to be God in human flesh was God in human flesh. He proved it by his power over death (Romans 1:4). And now, “because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).
We, each personally, like that tiny dust-speck-sized world, have come loose from our moorings and are adrift, out of control, crying out for help, in desperate need of rescue. And Jesus is our Savior who heard our cry for help and gave his all to save us. His life, death, and resurrection were all part of his rescue mission.
Through his life, Jesus, has taught us and shown us what God intends human beings to be. He has modeled “human being” for us.
Through his death, he provided the perfect sacrifice for our sins. To make it possible for you and me to be forgiven for our personal sin and be freed from our guilt before God, someone completely innocent and undeserving had to die in our place, receiving the punishment and judgment of God that we deserved. That innocent one was Jesus Christ. He willingly submitted himself to death for you and me. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Through his resurrection, we too can experience resurrection and eternal life. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him” (1 Corinthians 15:19-23).
Are you ready to be rescued by Jesus Christ? Imagine you were on a boat out in the middle of the ocean and you fell overboard. If someone on the boat threw you a life preserver line, you would need to decide to take hold of it before you could be pulled aboard to safety. We are faced with a similar situation with Jesus Christ. He has done everything needed to rescue us, but we each need to decide to be rescued. We need to ask God to forgive us for our sins. We need to repent, which means we need to be a follower of Jesus, rather than our self. We need to ask Jesus to come into our life and begin making us into the person we were always intended to be.
This is a big life decision. If you want to talk with someone about it, please feel welcome to contact us. We won’t pressure you in any way. We will just try to answer your questions.
Copyright Touchstone Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. All scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.
 Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who, 1954 (New York: Random House, 1982).