Friday, August 3, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 72: Limb for Life

Key Text

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew‬ ‭16:24-25‬ ‭(WEB‬‬)


Salamanders are some of the most amazing creatures on earth. When full grown they can be as small as 0.6 inches (1.7 cm) or as long as 6 feet (1.8 m). Some grow to be nearly 140 pounds (63 kg)! However most are around 6 inches (15 cm) long. They live all over the world and there are about 600 known species. One species has no legs and looks like a giant worm. Newts, mudpuppies, and sirens are all considered salamanders.

Salamanders are usually brightly colored. This acts as a warning to predators that they are dangerous to eat. It also makes them pretty for we humans. They live in a wide variety of environments from jungles, to mountains, to caves. Those that live in caves are pale and have large eyes. One mountain dwelling species, the Iranian harlequin newt, lives in the mountains of western Iran where there is only water for a few months each year. During the wet times it mates and feeds. In the long dry months it goes into a deep sleep in a burrow until the rain comes the next year.1

There are two important aspects that set salamanders apart from other animals. These two things offer an important lesson for us as Christians. The first is that they must live very close to water to keep their skin moist and to reproduce. Jesus said that he is the water of life and we must live close to this Water in order to survive. The second and perhaps most unique aspect of salamanders is that they are able to lose and regrow their limbs. This is a defense mechanism that allows them to escape when under attack. This is similar to what Jesus meant when he said whoever wants to save his life will lose it. In order to save our life and have eternal life, we must be willing to sacrifice our old life. By old life Jesus meant our old habits and thoughts. It may seem like giving up a whole limb when we leave that old life behind, but Jesus promised to give us a better one in its place and it will be worth it!


What does it mean to lose or give up your old life?

Doesn’t Jesus want us to have fun? Can we still have fun with this ‘new life’?

What if I have accepted Jesus’ new life but my life hasn’t really changed, it doesn’t feel better?

What does it mean to take up your cross?

Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit: StefanHoffmann via

1. Alina Bradford. Facts About Salamanders. October 29, 2015 Accessed July 31, 2018 from