The Parable of the Paper Cross

Today I’m going to show you a quick and easy object lesson, and all you need is a plain sheet of paper. Now, there are two parts to this object lesson: One, the actual folding of the sheet of paper and two, is the story that goes along with it. Usually I tell the story as I fold the sheet of paper. The story is about a Missionary in the early days of the Church who is traveling and uses this paper trick in teaching. The story is fictional. It doesn’t have to be exactly like I have it. I’ve heard so many variations of this story.

Give each person a sheet of paper and have them fold it and make a cross only tearing it with one straight line. Usually, nobody is able to do it. View the video above for instructions.


In the early days of the church, Missionaries were sent out one by one rather than in pairs.There’s a story of one young Elder who started out on foot without purse or script to begin his missionary labors. With a knapsack full of copies of the Book of Mormon, he came upon a small town. Confidently, he proceeded to the town square where the people gathered as he began his first sermon.

In small towns such as this, word travels fast. The local minister was one of the first to hear the rumor. The minister just happened to be good friends with the local sheriff. For fear of losing members of his congregation, he went to the sheriff and asked him to kick this Elder out of town.

Accordingly, the Sheriff marched down to the town square and, placing his thumbs in his gun belt, told the Elder to high-tail it out of town or he’d be thrown in jail for disrupting the peace.

The Elder, girding up his loins and grabbing his knapsack, turned and headed on to the next town. Upon reaching the outskirts of town, he was wondering where the Lord would lead him. He knelt in prayer for guidance. No answer came so he decided to continue his journey. The farther he walked, the more he felt that he should return to the town where he had just been rejected. He turned to go back, knowing that this was the will of the Lord.

He went back again to the town square and again went on with his preaching. People gathered around and again rumors began to spread — again reaching the town minister. Angry, the minister arrived at the sheriff’s saying, “I thought I told you to get that Mormon boy out of town.” Surprised, the Sheriff said that he did as he grabbed his deputy and headed for the center of town.

“Boy, you wanna spend the better part of your life in jail?”
“No sir, but the Lord has…”
“Don’t give me any of this ‘Lord’ stuff! I told you to get out of town, what happened?” quizzed the Sheriff.
“I was about to tell you…” explained the Elder, “when you…”
“Never mind,” he interrupted. Handing him a piece of paper, the Sheriff said “Here is what you can do…”

Now the Sheriff wanted to embarrass the lad in a way that he wouldn’t dare again set foot in ‘his’ town. All the towns people were watching as the Sheriff told him to take a piece of paper and with one single, straight tear, make that paper into a cross. He told the Elder that if he could do this, he would let him stay and preach to the people and he would even listen. He had made a laughing stock out of the Elder as the towns people waited with anticipation.

The Elder lowered his head and said a prayer. He opened his eyes and began to fidget with the paper, folding it this way and that way, and unfolding it again. Sweat streamed down his face as the crowd watched impatiently. Finally, the Elder slowly began tearing his one, straight tear. The crowd hushed. He finished tearing and started unfolding the pieces, one by one. The Sheriff winked with a confident countenance at the minister who was a ways back in the crowd.

He carefully unfolded the pieces — the last one being a cross. The Elders prayer had been answered. The Sheriff slipped quietly into the crowd as the Elder began to speak. “There’s a story about this cross that I want to share with you. There was once a very special man by the name of Jesus Christ. The people of that time hated him and had him killed because He taught that He was the Son of God. They nailed him to a cross like this one, upon a hill named Calvary. They nailed a plaque above his head on the cross which read “King of the Jews.” They hung the innocent Savior between two thieves, one on his left side and one on his right. One of the thieves mocked the Savior saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, why don’t you save us and save yourself too?” The other thief rebuked the first and the Savior told him, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” The wicked Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus’s robe, and then to make sure that the Savior was dead, they pierced his side with a spear.

Now, the wicked people that didn’t believe in the Savior have a warm place prepared for them in the eternities, HELL. But those who followed the Savior and kept His commandments will go to heaven. Not only did His followers LOVE him, but He had a great LOVE for mankind. Dying for us as a perfect sacrifice for sin enables us to live again with him if we live worthily. Why did he do these things? Because He LOVES us. He LOVES us so much He gave us the greatest gift ever: The opportunity to live again with him.”

As the young Elder left town that day, he thanked the Lord for answering his prayer for help, and for the great sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.