I’m sure by now you have heard of the record smashing sale of the painting by Leonardo da Vinci that took place last month.
Before last month, the highest price for a painting was $179 million for “The Women of Algiers” by Picasso. The price paid for da Vinci’s was $450 million, more than doubling the record!
Da Vinci’s masterpiece has an interesting history. It was painted around 1500. It was owned by King Charles 1 of England who reigned from 1625 to 1649. It disappeared until 1900 when it was acquired by a British collector. It sold in 1958 and then was acquired in 2005, badly damaged and partly painted over, by a consortium of art dealers for less than $10,000! The dealers restored the painting, sold it to a Russian billionaire in 2013 for $127 million who then sold it last month for $450 million.
Less than $10,000 to $450 million!
There is a lesson in this, especially when we consider the subject of the painting. It is called “Salvator Mundi” which is Latin for “Savior of the world.” It is a painting of Jesus Christ!
The history of this painting presents a parable of the world’s reaction to Jesus of Nazareth. To some, he is the most venerated person on earth – the subject of a masterpiece by one of the great artists – Leonardo da Vinci.
To others, he is relative junk. He bounces from place to place. People deface him. They paint over him. They try to change the image. He is not valued, but he is there, waiting for his precious value to be discovered. Then, one day he emerges and people realize the precious possession they have and others will do anything to gain him once they realize how valuable he is.
What is Jesus to you? Not the painting but the real person. Is he a curious artifact of history that has little relative value, or the most expensive, the most precious object in the world?
What would you pay for Jesus?
Last night, my wife and I watched The Miracle Worker, the 1962 movie about the nearly blind Anne Sullivan working with Helen Keller to bring her out of the darkness of her deafness and blindness.
In one of many memorable scenes, Anne and Helen have a knock-down, drag-out wrestling match during dinner. Anne is determined to teach her manners and respect. Helen is completely spoiled and as stubborn as a mule. The battle goes on and on, but Anne prevails with a small victory. She teaches Helen to fold her napkin.
Then, when Helen leaves, Anne is left wondering this. “How can I bring this child out of her darkness? How can I awaken her soul to want to learn?” She reads about how people persevere to rescue a person who has fallen into a pit with mounds of rubble on top of them. But seldom do people persevere to rescue a child’s soul who remains in a pit of blindness and deafness.
As the story goes on, Anne breaks through, Helen begins learning, and realizes that she is loved. She becomes the famous Helen Keller whose story has inspired millions.
This morning when I awakened, I thought again of the movie and of Ephesians 5:14 – “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead and the Lord will shine upon you.”
God calls us to awaken the “Helen Keller’s” of the world – to persevere with people and to draw them out so that they will want to learn about the Savior’s love for them and embrace him.
The picture on this post shows Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft who won Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress, respectively, for this inspiring film.