I remember one Christmas Eve many years ago, sitting in my chair at church, listening to my dad give the brief message. I was probably thinking about my Christmas gifts or how I couldn’t wait for our Christmas Eve meal, but as he told this story, I was captivated. It was perfect for that Christmas Eve, but it is really an Easter story.
After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church’s aging pastor slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit and gave a very brief introduction of his childhood friend.
With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak, “A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast when fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.”
The old man telling the story hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in what was being said. He continued, “Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life … to which boy would he throw the other end of the life line. He had only seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son belonged to Christ and having trusted in Jesus since he was a child, was a Christian. He also knew that his son’s friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of the waves.”
“As the father yelled out, ‘I love you, son!’ he threw out the life line to his son’s friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of the night.”
By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old man’s mouth. “The father,” he continued, “knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus. And, he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. He made the choice to sacrifice his son to save his son’s friend.” And then he added, “How great is the love of God that He should do the same for us.” With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair.
Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story,” said one of the boys, “but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.”
“Well, you’ve got a point there,” the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t very realistic, is it?”
“But I’m standing here today to tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me.”
“You see…” he said, “I was the son’s friend.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
And because every Little Love Story is better with adorable pictures of our nieces, here are a few of Bella Cate and Avonlea Joy from last Easter.
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