Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. They owned priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet and many others adorned the walls and rooms of the family estate. The elderly man had lost his wife earlier in life, so his son was his whole world. They traveled the world attending art shows and auctions together. The widowed elder man looked on with satisfaction, as his only child 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 from around the world. It was a joint endeavor that brought them very close.
But things soon changed for the young man as our country went to war. War engulfed our nation; the son was drafted, and left to serve his country. The father anxiously waited day after day to hear from his son after he was shipped overseas to the war front, but a letter never came. After a period of some weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was missing in action. The old man anxiously awaited more news, heartbroken and fearful that he would never see his son again.
Within days, after receiving the telegram, there came a knock at his front door. As he opened the door, there stood a soldier at attention. The soldier informed him that his worse fear was now confirmed. While under heavy enemy fire, his beloved son had rescued a fellow soldier that was wounded, pulling him out of harms way trying to get him to safety. He was trying to reach a medic to care for the man’s wounds. But in risking his life to save the man, he had exposed himself to heavy enemy fire. Even though he was able to get the wounded soldier to safety, the wounds he received as a result were to severe for him to survive, and he had died, shot through the heart. The old man stood in silence for a moment, he felt his body go limp, his heart sank in his chest, and then he slowly closed the door.
Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season – a season that he and his son had so looked forward to – would visit his house no longer.
On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he walked to the door, he walked by all the masterpieces by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet on the walls in the hallway. They only reminded him that his son was not coming home, and they would never share their love of the arts together again. As he opened the door, he was greeted by another soldier. This soldier had a large package in his hand. He introduced himself to the man by saying, “Sir, I was a friend of your son. I was severely wounded in battle, I was trapped. Your son risking his own life, came and rescued me. If not for him I would have perished. I am the one he was rescuing when he died. The old man stood, weak in the knees, tears in his eyes and looked at the young man, and asked him, “So you knew my son”? “Yes” indicated the soldier, “I knew him well”.
The soldier then said to the broken-hearted father, “May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you” “Yes, yes, please come in“, said the old man…As the two began to talk, the soldier told the old man how his son would always tell stories to all of his friends of he and his father’s love of fine art. “I’m definitely not a great artist,” said the soldier, as he handed the old man the package, but I painted this myself and I want you to have it”. As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to show a portrait of the scene of the old man’s son, carrying the wounded soldier, pulling him to safety during the heat of the battle. The battle in which he had lost his life. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, or that of even a decent artist, the painting featured the young man’s face and courage during the battle in striking detail.
Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace.
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. He pushed aside hundreds of thousands of dollars of paintings, and put the picture of his son in their place. And then the man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given.
During the days and weeks that followed, the old man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, his boy’s life would live on because of the lives he had touched. He would sit and watch the scene where his son gave his life in sacrifice to save another.
As time passed, more and more stories came to his attention, as many other soldiers contacted him and told him that his son had rescued them also and carried them to safety when they were wounded. The stories of dozens of wounded soldiers saved by his courage came to light before that fatal moment when a bullet stilled his caring heart. As the stories of his son’s gallantry continued to reach him, the old man’s fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease the grief and heartache he had suffered.
The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world pay dearly for and collectors clamored for. He told his friends and neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.
The following spring, the old man became ill and passed way. With the collectors passing, and his only son dead, the press released a story that his precious art collection, worth many tens of millions of dollars would be sold at auction. The art world was excited in anticipation. According to the will of the old man, all the art works would be auctioned on Christmas day, the day he had received his greatest gift, the gift of the painting from the once wounded soldier that had been saved by his son. The day soon arrived, and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular and expensive paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many would claim “I have the world’s greatest painting”, or “I have the greatest collection of paintings in the world.”
The auction began with a painting titled simply “The Son”. It was a painting that was not on any museum’s list, or on the list that any of the buyers had. It was the painting of the old man’s son. Those in attendance looked around in bewilderment, what kind of joke is this they wondered. This painting is obviously of no value, it is garbage, they said among themselves. It is of poor quality, very amateur to say the least. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100 for this painting?” he asked.
Minutes passed. No one spoke. From all around the room of the shouts came, “Who cares about that painting, it is not even a decent painting, it is of very poor quality, by an unknown artist, and it has no value whatsoever. It is not worth anything. It’s just a picture of his son at war. Let’s forget it and go on to the good stuff, no one here is interested in that. More voices echoed in agreement. “No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. The auction resumed.
“Now, who will bid on this picture said the auctioneer?” Over and over he repeated the same phrase, “Who will bid on this picture”? Finally, sitting on the back row at the far end of the room the gardener of the old man stood up and spoke. Looking first around the room at all the glaring eyes, and then at the auctioneer he said, “I am not a rich man, and I do not have much to offer”. “The father was a friend of mine, and I knew the boy”. I would love to have it, if no one else wants it, it would mean so very much to me. But I only have ten dollars,” “Will you take ten dollars for the painting, I’m sorry, that’s all I have.
“I have ten dollars, will anyone go higher?” barked the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said again, “I have ten dollars, will anyone go higher?” No one else bid on the painting. “Going once, going twice, sold for ten dollars to the gentleman in the back row; please see the cashier said the auctioneer.” The gavel fell.
Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, “Now we can get on with it and we can bid on these treasures of art.
The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over. Stunned disbelief at first quieted the room. Then from all around the room there was yelling and confusion. They were all saying, “What do you mean it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old guy’s son. What is going on here? What about all the paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and Rembrandt? There are millions and millions of dollars of art here! We demand that you explain 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.”
The lesson learned from this story, brings forth a lot of truth for us to consider. Those who came, intended to bid on what they considered to be the finest works of art in the world, but the father knew what was his greatest treasure was, the painting of his valiant and unselfish son. The message that was delivered by the auctioneer that day still rings true today, “According to the will of the father, whoever takes The Son… gets it all.”
This story is about the love of a father – a father whose greatest joy came from his son, a son who went away and gave his life rescuing others. And we too, have a loving Father, and His Son also went away and gave His life rescuing others, and the ending of both of the stories is the same. Just like the painting, Jesus’ life was considered worthless and without any value by the world. But just as the gardener had a love for the son, he was willing to give all he had to receive it, and in doing so he received everything that the father owned. We are given the same opportunity, and unlike the gardener, who had no idea of conditions the old man’s will, we know what will of the Father is, His will is in His word…It reads
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
So my friends, receive the Son, and receive it all, a gift of love by the Heavenly Father, through the sacrifice of His Son Christ Jesus. Whoever takes the Son gets it all.
*Story expanded and rewritten by Darrell Creswell, portions of this story by author unknown