You may be familiar with the famous "Study of Praying Hands" by Albrecht Durer (1472-1528), but you may not have heard the story behind the artwork.

When Albrecht was young, he and his friend Franz were studying to be artists while both were working long hours at other jobs. Rather than both failing at their art studies, they decided one should work while the other attended school. Franz agreed to work as a laborer, while Albrecht pursued his art career. He promised to return the favor once he became successful.

Finally, Albrecht began to achieve fame. He returned to keep his promise to his friend but realized that the manual labor had been hard on Franz. His fingers were too bent and twisted to manipulate a paintbrush. One night, as Franz knelt in prayer, Albrecht sketched the crippled hands of the friend who had made his own success possible. This famous portrait of the hands folded in prayer is a tribute to the spirit of love and sacrifice of his friend Franz.

The folded hands of Jesus Christ also are a portrait to us of His love and sacrifice. He not only prayed to His Father with those hands, but later opened those same hands and allowed them to be pierced on our behalf. For those who believe in Him as their Savior, His hands are precious.

Today in the Word, September 2003