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 paintings.
Then a war broke out, and the son went away to fight. 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 there was a knock at the door and a young man stood there with a large package in his hands. “Sir, you don’t know me,” he said, “but I am the soldier your son died to save. 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.”
The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much,” he said, “but your son often talked about you and your love for art. “I’m not a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”
The father opened the package to find 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, especially his eyes, until his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.
“Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift,” said the young man.
The father hung the portrait over his fireplace, and 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.
Not too long afterwards, the man died and a great auction of his paintings was organised. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to obtain one for their own collection.
On the platform sat the painting of the son, and the auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. What am I bid for this picture?”
There was a long silence. Finally a voice came from the back of the room: “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.”
But the auctioneer persisted: “Who will bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? £100, £50?”
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 paintings!”
But still the auctioneer continued. “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 and let’s move on to the Masters!’’ The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture 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, he said, “but the auction is over.”
“But what about the famous paintings?” demanded the crowd.
“I am sorry,” the auctioneer explained. “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 moment. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the other paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
And the gospel message is the same: Who will take the Son? Whoever takes Jesus the Son gets everything!