September 21, 2021

A Brother’s Hands


John 15:13


A story is told of the famous artist Albrecht Durer. Albrecht and his brother Albert both had dreams of being artists, but growing up poor in the 16th century meant that the Durer family had very little means to support the education and training needed for both boys. 

The story goes that Albrecht and Albert made a deal: they would flip a coin and whoever won the toss would go to school for four years to train to be an artist while the other brother went to work in the mines to support the other. After four years, they would switch places—one at school and the other in the mines–so that each could achieve their dreams. They flipped the coin and Albrecht won—he would be the first to go to school, and so he enrolled while Albert took a grueling job in the mines.

After four years, the family gathered to celebrate Albrecht’s graduation and his climbing the ladder of the artistic world. During the dinner, Albrecht raised a toast to his brother Albert, to thank him for his sacrifice in the mines and for putting him through school, and to remind him of their deal and that he could now enroll in school while he, Albrecht, would go to the mines. Through tears, Albert told his brother he could not keep the deal. After four years of hard labor in the mines–broken fingers, calloused hands, and creeping arthritis–Albert told his brother that he was simply unable to draw and paint with the finesse needed of an artist. His chance to be a great artist was lost.

As an homage to his brother’s sacrifice, Albrecht drew a sketch of his brother’s praying hands, hands that are beaten up, broken, but that never lost their faith. The painting would become known as “The Praying Hands” and is one of the most recognizable works of religious art in the world. It is a reminder of the sacrifice and the faith of one who laid down his life for his brother, a call that Jesus gives to each of his followers.


  • Who is someone that has sacrificed greatly for you? How do you honor and remember them?


  • Share a time when someone made a generous sacrifice for you that turned out to be a game-changer for your life.


Lord, give us the courage to sacrifice; help us to be humble in spirit and to give all we have for our brothers and sisters this day. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.