After a few of the usual Sunday evening Hymns, the pastor slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, but before he gave his sermon, he introduced a guest minister who was in the service that night. In the introduction, the pastor told the congregation that their guest minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to share whatever he felt was appropriate for the service.
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,' he began. When a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore.
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 hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were for the first time since the service began. Looking somewhat interested in his story, the aged minister 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 only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian and 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. The father yelled out, "I love you, son!" Then 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 and into the black of night. His body was never recovered.
At this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old ministers 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 the son, to save the son's friend.'
How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us. Our heavenly father sacrificed His only son that we could be saved. I urge you to accept His offer to rescue you and take a hold of the life line He is throwing out to you in this service.' With that the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room.
The pastor again walked slowly back to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon with an invitation at the end. However, no one responded to the appeal. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenager's were at the old man's side.
'That was a nice story,' politely stated one of them, '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. 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 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 was my son's best friend!'
I don't see how anything more, that I could say, would make the love of God more clear to anyone. God has given us a choice, and all I can do is present it!