At the beginning of a church service, the pastor briefly introduced his guest speaker. An elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and told this story:
“A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast,” he began, “when a 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. The three were swept into the ocean.”
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two young men in the crowd who were beginning to look somewhat interested in his story.
“The father made it back to the overturned boat and grabbed the only remaining rescue line,” he continued. “Then he had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: To which boy would he throw the other end of the rescue line? He only had seconds to make the decision.
“The father knew that his son had received Jesus as his Savior, and he also knew that his son’s friend had not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. The father yelled out, ‘I love you, son!’ Then he threw the line to his son’s friend. By the time he pulled the other boy back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells. His body was never recovered.”
By this time, the two young men were decidedly attentive, sitting up straight and waiting anxiously 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. Therefore, he sacrificed his son.”
Pausing for just a moment, the old man then finished with this thought: “How great is the love of God, that He should do the same for us.”
Silence filled the room as the old man stepped down from the pulpit and went back to his seat.
Within minutes after the service ended, the two young men were at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story,” one of the boys said, “but I don’t think it was very realistic to say that a father would give up his 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 face as he looked up at the boys and said, “It doesn’t seem possible, does it? But that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give His Son for me. You see, I was the son’s friend.”