A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. A few months later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man was standing at the door with a very large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when he was struck in the heart by a bullet and died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much, and I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.” The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the portrait. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift to you.” The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.
The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this portrait of the son. Who will make a bid for this painting?” There was complete silence, until a voice in the back of the room shouted. “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” However, the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding at $100, $200?” Another man shouted angrily, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?” Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the long-time gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10, we came see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming very angry. They didn’t want the painting of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting on the second row shouted. “Now let’s get on with the collection!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I wasn’t allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. You see, only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!” God gave His only begotten Son over 2,000 years ago to shed His blood and die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message for us today is:
“The Son, the Son, who will take the Son?”
I read some time ago about an instant cake mix that was a big flop. The instructions said all you have to do is add water and bake. The company couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell until their research discovered that the buying public felt uneasy about a mix that required only water. People thought it was too easy. So the company altered the formula and changed the directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water. The idea worked, and sales jumped dramatically. That story reminded me of how some people react to the plan of salvation. To them it sounds too easy and simple to be true, even though the Bible says, “By grace you have been saved through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works” (Ephesians 2:8-9). They feel that there is something more they must do, something they must add to God’s “recipe” for salvation. They think they must perform good works to gain God’s favor and earn eternal life. However, the bible is very clear; we are saved “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5). My friend, unlike the cake-mix manufacturer, God hasn’t changed His “formula” to make salvation more marketable. The gospel we proclaim must be free of works, even though it may sound too easy. My friend, whatever you decide about God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ; whose blood was shed on the cruel cross of Calvary will determine your destiny. Much like the auctioneer, His message for us today is:
“The Son, the Son, who will take the Son?”