A man once collected valuable pieces of art with his only son. They amassed a great treasure of the finest art in the world. When war broke out, the son enlisted in the Army and was subsequently killed rescuing a fellow soldier. The father who had adored his son fell into a deep, dark depression.
One morning, a knock brought the man to the door, where he encountered a young soldier. "I was a friend of your son. I owe your son my life, for he died while saving me.”
The young soldier continued, “I have something for you.” The father opened the package handed to him and saw a portrait of his son. Though the world would never consider it valuable, it immediately became the father’s greatest gift.
As tears streamed down his eyes, the man thanked the soldier. The old man removed valuable artwork above his fireplace, replacing it with the picture of his son. He gazed at the gift he had been given the rest of the day.
A few months later the father became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation! News spread the collection would be auctioned on Christmas day, the day he had received his greatest gift.
Finally, the day came and hundreds of people arrived at the estate. The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum's list. It was that painting of the man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. No one spoke. From the back of the room someone said, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let's forget it and go on to the good stuff." The auctioneer responded, "No, we have to sell this one first. Now, who will take the son?"
After more silence a neighbor spoke up and said, "Will you take 10 dollars for the painting? That's all I have, but I knew the boy and would like to have it." "I have 10 dollars. Will anyone go higher?" called the auctioneer. Silence. "Going once, going twice. Sold." The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, "Good, now we can finally get to the real treasures!" The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over.
Someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it's over? There are millions of dollars of art here! What's going on here?!" The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son...gets it all."
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 1 John 4:15
The Rev. Steve Helfrich is pastor of The Bridge, 504 E. 12th, Alton, IL 62002; www.BridgeToGrace.org