“Oh, Mom! Do we really have to go?” Jason mumbled.
Joe chimed in hopefully: “We could just keep the Sabbath at home today.” But Mother and Dad were firm. It was the Sabbath, and it was time to keep their appointment with God.
Jason and Joe had grumbled their way through breakfast, grumbled their way through worship and grumbled their way to church.
After a few of the usual hymns had been sung, the pastor walked over to the pulpit and gave a very brief introduction of the guest speaker. He was an old friend of the pastor, and he was old! Jason and Joe crossed their arms and sighed loudly as they slumped back in their seats. Another boring sermon, they thought.
“A father, his son, David, and David’s friend, John, were sailing off the Pacific Coast,” the old man 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 a good sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and all three were swept into the ocean.”
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with the two rebellious teenagers, Jason and Joe. They were, for the first time since the service began, beginning to look somewhat interested in his story.
“Grabbing a rescue line,” he continued, “the father had to make the hardest decision of his entire life, . . .to which boy would he throw the other end of the line? He had only a few seconds to make his decision, for the waves were pushing them all farther apart. He knew that his son, David, was a fine Christian boy, and he also knew that David’s friend, John, was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves.”
“‘I love you David! I love you, Son,’ the father called out over the stormy waves. Then he turned and threw the line to John.
By the time he had pulled John back to the capsized boat, David had disappeared beyond the raging swells of the black night. His body was never found.
By this time, Jason and Joe were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words to come out of the old man’s mouth.
He continued. “The father knew that his son would be resurrected to spend eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of David not finding his best friend, John, there to greet him on the resurrection morning. He could not bear the thought that these two boys who loved each other so much would not be in heaven, together. So, he sacrificed his son that John might have an opportunity to learn about God and how God’s love is so great that He made that exact same sacrifice for us.”
With that the old man turned and sat down in his chair. Stunned silence filled the room. Within minutes after the service ended, Jason and Joe were at the old man’s side.
“That was quite a story,” Jason politely started to say, “but I don’t think it was very realistic. It’s a little far-fetched to think that a father would give up his own son’s life just in the hope that the other boy would become a Christian.”
“Well, you may be right,” 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. “It sure isn’t a very realistic story, is it? But I am standing here today, and I can tell you THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. I understand how it works. You see, I was David’s friend. My name is John.