Doug Johnson: The definition of sacrifice is visible in His hands

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 21, 2024

Late in the 15th century, two young woodcarving apprentices in France confided to each other their desire to study painting. 

But this plan would take money and both Hans and Albrecht were poor.

Finally, though, they had a solution. 

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One would work and earn money while the other studied. 

Then, when the lucky one became rich and famous, he in turn could help the other. 

They tossed a coin and Albrecht won.

So, while Albrecht went to Venice, Hans worked as a blacksmith. 

As quickly as he received his wages, he forwarded money to his friend.

The months stretched into years, and, at last, Albrecht returned to his native land, an independent master. 

Now it was his turn to help Hans.

The two men met in joyous reunion, but when Albrecht looked at his friend, tears welled in his eyes. 

Only then did he discover the extent of Hans’s sacrifice. 

The many years of heavy labor in the blacksmith shop had calloused and bruised Hans’s sensitive hands. 

His fingers could never handle a painter’s brush.

In humble gratitude to Hans for his years of sacrifice, the artist, the great Albrecht Durer, painted a portrait of the work-worn hands that had labored so faithfully so that he might develop his talent. 

He presented this painting of “Praying Hands” to his devoted friend.

Today this masterpiece, a symbol of friendship and sacrifice, is familiar to millions of people throughout the world.

We don’t hear a lot about sacrifice anymore. 

It seems that many people are only interested in what they can receive or attain for themselves. 

However, anything worth having is worth sacrificing for. 

Have we so soon forgotten that our forefathers sacrificed their well-being to sail across the ocean to this new land? 

Have we forgotten that the freedom we enjoy in America came from the sacrifices of our veterans? 

Have we forgotten about the supreme sacrifice that Jesus made so that we could have eternal life?

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 

Jesus sacrificed His own life so that the world could be saved from sin. 

He turned His back on the riches of heaven and came to earth to be born in a lowly manger. 

He came to us and made a way for us to come to Him!

You see, ‘sacrifice’ isn’t a dirty word — it’s simply another word for commitment. 

Hans was willing to sacrifice his dream so that Albrecht could succeed. 

When Albrecht saw his friend’s hands he realized the tremendous sacrifice Hans had made for him.  

And if you ever wonder whether Jesus is committed to you or not — just take a look at His hands. 

Those nail scars tell the whole story! 

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.