by Dick Innes
The Duke of Norfolk once sent a priceless family treasure to the King of England as an expression of his love and esteem. It was the Portland Vase, a rare antique which had been handed down for generations. Wanting to share this treasure with the nation, the King had the vase placed in the British Museum.
Later came disaster. In the Duke's own realm his chief servant plotted to overthrow the Duke and take his place. He was subsequently caught and dismissed.
Eaten up with resentment, the servant vowed to get even with the Duke. Remembering the Duke's priceless gift to the King of England, he went to the British Museum in London to find it.
Through careful observation, he was able to select the most suitable day and time to carry out his devious plot. When visitors left the area, and the museum attendants were out of sight, he quickly climbed over the barrier and with both hands grasped this exquisite masterpiece of pottery. And then, raising the vase high above his head, with all his might he hurled it to the floor.
The crash quickly brought attendants to the scene. Too late! The priceless treasure was smashed seemingly beyond repair. Shocked and grieved, the attendants swept up the shattered remains.
"Save every piece," the King said when hearing of the tragedy. "This is my most treasured gift. We'll search for someone who can repair it, not matter what it costs."
Eventually, in the far north of Scotland, a man was found who could do the work. Apparently he was a distant relative of the original creator of the vase. Working for long months with painstaking skill, he sorted each broken fragment, and meticulously place it back where it belonged.
Apparently the Portland Vase is still on display in the British Museum and its fine lines of restoration can be faintly seen. Though I cannot vouch for its authenticity, this story offers a graphic illustration of God's dealing with mankind.
Biblical accounts tell of an angel who lived in heaven. Second only to God, he was brilliant, beautiful, and majestic. His name was Lucifer, son of the morning.
Lucifer, too, had a problem with pride. Plotting to overthrow God, he said, "I will ascend into heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will set enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will make myself like the Most High."1
"I will raise my throne above the stars of God."
Commonly known as Satan, or the Devil, Lucifer was also caught and dismissed from his pinnacle of power. Apparently, this is when he changed to being filled with deception and evil.
Isaiah the prophet wrote, "How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cast down to the ground...you shall be brought down to hell."2
Filled with hatred and revenge, Satan determined to get back at God, so he turned to God's must precious creation--mankind!
Because God had created man with a free will either to love or reject him, to obey or disobey him, to choose good or evil, Satan knew how to appeal to man.
"How would you like to be like God?" was the real apple that Satan dangled in front of man. "If you disobey God you won't die," he lied. "You will be able to distinguish good from evil--just like God." he continued.3 What he didn't say was that if man disobeyed God, he would be forever enslaved in a state of sin and alienated from the God who loved him, resulting in both spiritual and physical death.
Believing Satan instead of God, man chose to disobey God and took of the forbidden fruit.
Satan lifted man as high as he could and then sent him crashing to destruction. Sin entered the human race. Man would be eternally severed from God.
He accepted and forgave the prostitute...He held the little children on his lap.
God, too could have thrown away the broken pieces of humanity and started again. But he didn't. His love for mankind was far too great. His priceless treasure must be saved.
But how would this be done and by whom? In all the universe there was nobody capable of restoring broken mankind--except for one--and that was God's only Son.
So at Christmas two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ the Son of God--the one who created all things and with his mighty power flung the stars and galaxies across the heavens to the farthest ends of the universe, the one who made you and me--laid aside his robes of deity and came to earth as a man. Identifying with us, he was thus able to pay the ransom price for our fall through his death on the cross.
Down the hot, dusty streets of Jerusalem the Son of God searched for broken pieces of humanity. On the pebbly shore of Galilee, by a well in Samaria, in villages and at market places; always he searched. He came "to seek and to save the lost."4
When he healed blind Bartimaeus, the leper, the man with the withered hand, the demoniac, and all the sick and handicapped who came to him; when he accepted and forgave the prostitute, the thief, the despised tax collector, the rich and poor, the religious and irreligious; and when he picked up the little children and held them on his lap, he was picking up the broken pieces of his creation and lovingly placing them back into God's master design. All were of infinite value to God.
And when God found me, another piece of broken humanity--a fallen, lost sinner--he picked me up, forgave my sin, healed my spirit, and placed me back into his great plan.
Today, Christ the Savior is still seeking the lost and calling young and old alike everywhere to come to him for forgiveness, to receive his gift of eternal life, and to be placed back into his divine plan. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened," Jesus said, "and I will give you rest."4 And again, "Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."5
Christ's invitation includes you too. Today he is calling you to come to him for forgiveness, wholeness and the gift of eternal life.
How can you come? Simply pray and confess your sin to God, ask Christ to come into your heart and life as Lord and Savior, and accept his forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. When you do this, Christ will place you back into his great plan for mankind and into his family. He has promised he would. Why not do this right now?
1. Isaiah 14:13-14, NIV. 2. Isaiah 14:12,15. 3. See Genesis 3:4-5, NIV. 4. Matthew 11:28, NIV. 5. Revelation 22:17, NIV.