The Father’s Only Son


There once was a very wealthy man. He was the heir of several generations of wealthy men before him, and each had increased the family fortune. This particular man had invested in art. He had the most valuable private holding in the world: Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet, Dali… works by some of the greatest artists in history. On his massive estate, he built a special wing of his mansion just to display his favorite pieces.

One day the man met a beautiful woman. They fell in love and got married. Soon his wife was pregnant with their first child. Life was a fairytale until the terrible day when she died giving birth to their first and only son. After the wife’s death, it was just father and son. They became inseparable. It is impossible to express how much this father loved his son. They were best friends. They did everything together. The son was his father’s whole world – more valuable than his vast wealth multiplied a million times over.

When the son grew up, he planned to take over the family business. But he felt he should first get experience outside his familiar life. So he joined the military and was shipped off to war. Though the son was thousands of miles away, he stayed close to his father by writing letters. He wrote faithfully every few days. The father awaited each letter with great anticipation. His butler knew how much those letters meant to him, so he would hand deliver them the moment they arrived.

One day the butler came into the father’s study, holding one of the familiar envelopes from the battlefield. The father took the letter excitedly, but instantly noticed that something was different. His son’s personal details and familiar handwriting were missing. This letter was from the commander. The father’s hands trembled as he pulled the small piece of paper out and read the words he dreaded most. “Dear Sir, we regret to inform you that your son has been killed in the line of duty…” The father fell on his knees sobbing.

For weeks he was overcome with grief, not knowing how to go on. But one day the father had an idea. He commissioned a local artist to paint a portrait of his son. He rearranged his art gallery to make room for it. Right in the middle of the gallery, set higher than all other paintings, hung the portrait that the father entitled, “The Son.” Out of all the priceless works of art, The Son was the father’s favorite.

He would make a special trip to the gallery every day to look at it and remember him. Tears would stream down his face as he thought about the one that he loved so much. All the other paintings, though priceless to the world, seemed worthless to him.

Eventually, the father died also. Since he had no living heir, the estate was to be auctioned off. When auction day arrived, wealthy investors from around the world – especially art investors – arrived to secure their prized piece of the estate.

The auctioneer opened by announcing that they would begin with the piece entitled, “The Son.” The name of the artist was unknown and the buyers stirred restlessly as the auctioneer began. “We will start the bidding at $1,000. Can I get $1,000?” At the back of the crowd one hand went into the air – the butler’s. He was not a wealthy man and could never afford a Picasso or Rembrandt. But he had no interest in them anyway. 

He only wanted this portrait of his master’s son. He had seen the son grow from a little boy into a man and had come to love him as his own. “I’ll give $1,000,” he said. The auctioneer continued, “Can I get $1,500?” No hands went up. “Can I get $1,200? $1,100?” By now the wealthy buyers began to mumble and complain. This is not what they had come for. They came only for the valuable pieces. The auctioneer was wasting their precious time with bids on a worthless portrait. “Going once, going twice…sold!” The gavel came down; the butler came forward to claim his purchase.

Then the auctioneer announced, “And with this purchase the auction comes to a conclusion. Thank you all for coming out today.” The wealthy collectors started to shout, “What about the paintings, the cars, the house, the property? What about the rest of the estate?” The auctioneer explained, “I am sorry to disappoint you. But the father gave very specific instruction in his will regarding the sale of his possessions. He required that the auction start by offering “The Son.” And “whoever takes the son gets everything.”

Jesus Christ is God’s Son. When God gave His Son to us, He gave us His everything – His entire estate. That is the message of Christmas. Those who receive God’s Son receive all the treasures of Heaven. But for those that reject Him, God has nothing else to offer.

The Magi left everything behind and traveled to a distant land to find the One foretold by Daniel and the prophets of old. Their gifts recognized him as God, as King and as Heaven’s indescribable gift to us. Amazingly, they somehow knew the hour of their visitation, even when Israel missed it. They had not yet seen His miracles or heard His teachings. They did not possess all the Scriptures telling of Messiah’s death, resurrection, and future return.

 But as heirs of Daniel’s legacy, they believed God and worshiped His Son the Messiah. They were truly “wise men” in the ultimate sense, signaling that, one day, people from every tribe and nation would stream to the King of the Jews. Therefore Scripture has immortalized their astounding faith. They are now a powerful example to us, thousands of years later. Their story takes us beyond the traditional Nativity Scene into the real Christmas story. God is still drawing men and women from “afar” to be brought near through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). That is the message of the Magi.


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