Many years ago, there was a wealthy widower who, with his only child, a devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate.
The man looked on with satisfaction as his son became an experienced art collector. The son's trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors worldwide. As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the son left home to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram that his beloved son had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic.
Distraught and lonely, the man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with sadness. The joy of the season that he and his son had so looked forward to — would no longer visit his house. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man.
As he walked to the door, the masterpieces on his walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door, a soldier greeted him with a large, wrapped package in his hand. He introduced himself to the man by saying, “I was a friend of your son. In fact, I was the soldier he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.”
As the two began talking, the soldier told the man how often his son spoke of their shared love of fine art. “I'm an artist,” said the soldier, “and I want to give you this.” As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man's son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man's face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace in his study.
A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace in his study, pushing aside paintings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And then the man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the wonderful gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man discovered that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy's life would live on because he had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before he died.
As the stories of his son's gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease the grief. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.
The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation. With the collector's passing, and his only son dead, his paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas day, the day he had received his greatest gift.
The day arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many would add the new art to their collections. But the auction began with a painting that was not on any museum's list. It was the painting of the man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid and the room fell silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?” he asked.
Minutes passed. No one spoke. From the back of the room came, “Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let's forget it and go on to the good stuff.” More voices echoed in agreement. “No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now, who will take the son?” Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. “Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That's all I have. I knew the boy, so I'd like to have it.” “I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?” called the auctioneer.
After more silence, the auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice. Gone.” The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, “Now we can get on with it and we can bid on these treasures!” The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over.
Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, “What do you mean it's over? We didn't come here for a picture of this man’s son! What about all of the other paintings? There are millions of dollars of art here! I demand that you explain what's going on here!” The auctioneer replied, “It's really very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son … gets it all.”
And just like the people discovered at the auction, the message is the same today … God the Father’s greatest love and greatest joy came when His only Son stepped out of heaven and into the world, so that He could step into our hearts.
Jesus Christ gave His life rescuing others. And when Jesus Christ died on the cross, He paid the price for the sin of the world. The price for your sin and for my sin, and made it possible for us to come into a relationship with God.
And because of God the Father's love … whoever takes the Son, Jesus Christ, gets it all … abundant life in the here and now, and eternal life when we pass from this world. Blessed be the word of the LORD. Godspeed.