The Power of the Gift

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”   —  Mark 10:45

In the early 1700’s, there lived in Germany a young nobleman named Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. His father had died when he was six weeks old, and Nikolaus was raised on a huge estate by three women–his mother, his grandmother, and his aunt, all of them devout Christians.

After graduating from the university at Wittenberg, the young count embarked on a grand tour of Europe. It was in the art museum at Dusseldorf that he had a life-altering experience with Christ. Housed in the museum was a painting by Domenico Feti entitled Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”). It was a portrait of the thorn-crowned Christ gazing at the viewer. Beneath the painting were the words, “I have done this for you; what have you done for me?” Zinzendorf said to himself, “I have loved Him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for Him. From now on I will do whatever He leads me to do.”

Many years later, on January 10, 1858, another young Christian visited the Dusseldorf art museum. Frances Havergal, about 17, was tired and sat down opposite the same painting. As she studied the picture and read the accompanying inscription, a few words of a hymn came to mind. Frances jotted them down.

Later, back in England, she worked on her poem some more, but grew discouraged with it and threw it in the fire. Somehow it fell out of the grate. Several months later, Frances showed it to her father who was so moved that he wrote a tune for the words (although the tune most frequently used in American churches is by Philip Bliss). In 1890 it was published:

I gave my life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’s ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave my life for thee,
What hast thou given for me?

The reality and power of God’s gift of His Son changed the lives of these two great Christians of the past. The power of the gift is still changing lives! Look at the cross today. Gaze deeply into the face of the sinless Son of God and realize that innocent blood was shed for the filth and guilt of your life. Ask yourself seriously, “Have I truly repented of my sin and placed my faith and trust in the One who died for me?” and “What will I do with the power of the gift?”

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