After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's pastor slowly stood up and walked over to the pulpit. Before he gave his sermon for the evening, he briefly introduced a guest minister, who was in the service that evening.
Durning the introduction the pastor told the congregation, our guest minister was one of my dearest childhood friends. The pastor wanted him to take a few moments to greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the service.
The elderly minister stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak. A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off of the Pacific coast. Suddenly a fast approaching storm blocked their 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. Soon the three of them were swept into the ocean, as the boat capsized.
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were for the first time, since the service began, looking interested in his story.
The aged minister continued on with his story. The father grabbed a rescue line, then he had to make the most excruciating decision of his life. To which boy would he throw the other end of the lifeline? He only had a few seconds to make a decision.
The father knew that his son was a Christian, but he also knew that his son's friend was not a Christian. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of the waves.
The father yelled out to his son, I love you, my son! At that moment, the father threw out the other end of the lifeline, to his son's friend. By the time the father had pulled his son's friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells, into the black of the night.
His son's body was never recovered!
By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxious to hear the next words that the old minister would speak.
The old minister continued, the father knew that his son would step into eternity, with the Lord Jesus Christ. He also knew that his son's friend was lost, and he could not bear the thought of him stepping into an eternity without Jesus. He sacrificed his son to save his son's friend.
How great is the love of God, that He should do the same for us! Our Heavenly Father, sacrificed His only begotten Son, so that we could be saved. I urge you to accept His offer to rescue you, and to take hold of the lifeline that He is throwing out to you.
After saying these things, the old man turned and sat back down into his chair.
Silence filled the room.
The pastor walked slowly back to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon. He added an invitation to the end of the service, yet no one responded to his appeal.
A few minutes after the service had ended, the two teenagers walked over to the old man. Standing beside him, they made the following remark: "That was a nice story, but we don't think that it was very realistic. We do not believe that a father would 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. A big smile came upon the old man's face as he glanced down at his worn Holy Bible. He looked up at the boys and said, it sure isn't very realistic is it?
Well, 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... I was that father, and your pastor is my son's friend!
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For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16