I read this story over fifty years ago, but I thought I’d share it with you so it could bless you with its message. It is about a wealthy man and his son who loved collecting rare inspirational artworks. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together, sharing stories about the great works of art.
When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son joined the military and went to the war zone. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package. 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 a bullet struck him in the heart, and he died instantly. While alive, he often talked about you and your love for inspirational art.”
The young man then held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.” The father took the package inside and opened it. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at how the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his 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.”
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see his son’s picture 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 tremendous inspirational artwork and the opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat his son’s portrait.
The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this portrait of the son. Who will bid for this painting?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted. “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice shouted angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!” But still, the auctioneer continued. “The son’s picture first! Who will bid on 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. Let’s see the masters, people shouted.” “$10 is the bid; won’t someone bid $20?”
The crowd was becoming agitated. The bidders didn’t want the son’s portrait. They wanted more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting in the second row shouted. “Now, let’s get on with the collection!”
Suddenly, the auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry,” he said, “the auction is over.” The crowd was stunned and dismayed. The auctioneer continued, “When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the inspirational paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to save those wounded by sin. But He died on a cruel cross in doing so. So, much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “Only those who take My Son will inherit His entire estate. So, who will take the Son, who will take the Son?”