|After a few of the usual Sunday morning hymns, the church's Pastor slowly stood up in the service and walked over to the pulpit getting ready for his part in the morning service. Before he gave his sermon, he wanted to briefly introduce his guest who was visiting the church that morning.
The Pastor told the congregation that the guest Minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to greet the church to share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the service.
With that, an elderly man stood up to the pulpit and began to speak. "A Father, his son, and a friend of his son, were sailing off the northwest Pacific coast when a fast storm approached and blocked any attempt for the boat to get back to shore. The waves were so high that even the father, who was an experienced sailor of many years, couldn't keep the boat upright in the waves. The three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized."
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with a couple of teenagers who, for the first time since the service began, were looking somewhat interested in what the old man was saying.
The aged visitor continued his story, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life -- as to which boy he would throw the other end of the lifeline. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also knew that his sonâs friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves."
"As the father yelled out, "I love you, son!" he threw out the lifeline to his son's best 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 waves and his body was never recovered."
By now the two teenagers were sitting straight in the pew, glaring, waiting anxiously for the next words to come from the old manâs mouth.
He continued, "The father knew his son would step into eternity with God Almighty, and he could not bear the thought of his son's best friend stepping into an eternity of death and no hope. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the son's close friend."
Now just how great is the love of God, that he should do the same for us? Our heavenly Father sacrificed his only begotten Son, that we could be saved. I urge you to accept his offer of the life line to rescue you today, and take hold of the life line he is throwing out to you this morning in this service!"
With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair. Silence filled the room . The pastor walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon with an invitation at the end. No one responded to the appeal. Within minutes after the service ended the two teenagers were at the old man's side.
"That was a nice story," started one of the boys politely, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only sonâs life in hope that the other boy would become a Christian in the future."
"Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face as he looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isnât very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to tell you that this story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up his son for me."
"You see, son, I am that father who sailed the boat that day, and your pastor was my son's best friend."