Steptoe and Son

By: jdcharles63
Date: 16/12/2018

John 8:31 is a verse packed with meaning, it reads, “Jesus said ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.

That verse reminds me of what was my favourite TV show of 55 years ago, a comedy called Steptoe and Son.

It showed a father and son who had a rag and bone, or recycled rubbish, business.  They lived in a dismal house cluttered with junk, beside a yard full of rubbish, and wore old ragged clothes.  The son Harold did all the work of collecting rubbish with a horse and cart.

 The comedy was set against a background of tension and tragedy.  The son Harold wanted to make a better life for himself, and he knew he could choose to do it.  But his father was happy to live in squalor, and through his deceit he managed to keep Harold trapped in the business.

He would say things like “you belong here, this is your home”, or he would ridicule and challenge Harold to explain in detail how his plans would work.

 I think the scriptwriters put more about people, life and spiritual warfare into this series than they realized.  All people are tempted to devote their lives to this world’s idols, such as bigger houses, more possessions, false beliefs, various ideologies and causes, or packaged entertainment and instant pleasure.  When we allow these things to possess us, they can fill our lives and trap us, just like the rubbish in the house of Steptoe and Son.

And seen from God’s perspective of what he has planned for us, lives filled with idols are like a junk yard.

 We are like the character of Harold.

We know that we live in the squalor of a world of sin, but that we were created for something far better, for a life in Paradise with God, to be in communion with him, to worship him and do his work.

Like Harold, we are free to turn away from the squalor of sin, for our heavenly father has prepared the way for us.  Through Jesus we have been freed from the power of sin, and adopted as heirs into God’s heavenly kingdom.  It would be an eternal tragedy if we allowed anyone to deceive us from accepting such a precious gift.

 But just as Harold had old Steptoe, so we have old Satan scheming to confuse us and keep us in the world of sin.  Some people have told me they couldn’t bear to watch the show because old Steptoe was so horrible. That doesn’t surprise me, as his character seems to be a direct copy of Satan the deceiver in the bible. It’s funny that this character was popular at a time when some churches became shy about mentioning Satan.

Satan uses many tactics.

He tells us the world of sin is our only home, that is where we belong, and we should be happy there.  But we know our real home is with Jesus, he promised he was going to his father’s house to prepare a place for us.

 Satan uses ridicule; he challenges us to know and explain in doctrine how this gift can work, even how we can be blessed through this simple meal.  This is just a way of tempting us to take control, to take on the role of God, and change things to suit ourselves.

 Satan tells us it is too good to be true, there must be things we need to achieve, or pain we need to suffer, to be made worthy.  But nothing we do can ever make us worthy, only what Jesus has already done for us, when he bore our pain and suffering on the cross.

 Perhaps Satan is most persuasive when he points to our sin.  He invites us to typecast ourselves, as hopeless sinners, and to doubt God’s power to save us.  So when God calls us to step out in faith, Satan questions our ability to do the tasks ahead, he causes us to focus on ourselves instead of God.

The outcome does not rely on our abilities, it relies on what God can do through us when we allow him into our lives.

 We know we are sinners, unable to save ourselves.

So we come before the table of our Lord Jesus to celebrate his precious gift of forgiveness.

 As we take this meal, we proclaim the reality of Jesus death and resurrection, and invite his spirit to live in us, and make his victory real in our lives.

 That is the truth which sets us free.


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