Thursday, 16 November 2017

Salvator Mundi

I have just heard of the sale of a Leonardo Da Vinci painting in New York.  It cost £351,000,000.  No one knows who the buyer is but I doubt if he will have it hanging in his front room.  Best to put it in a bank vault somewhere to be brought out only on special occasions. 

The painting depicts the face of Christ and is called ‘Salvator Mundi’ or ‘Saviour of the World’.  This is not the first time it has been sold.  In 1958 it was sold at auction in London for just £45.  At that time it was thought that a follower of Leonardo who could work in his master’s style was the painter.   The point is no one knew the painting’s true value. 

The Bible tells us of a moment in time when the Son of God was born and few people appreciated His true value.  The Apostle John writes:

‘He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.’ 

This is amazing to us.   The perfect life did not impress.  His words bounced off hard hearts.  Even His miracles did not convince.  Someone once said, ‘God walked the streets of Jerusalem.  He was hung on a cross and then people went back to work.’  We are a strange lot we humans.  The One we needed most was treated worst. 

Christmas reminds us that this rejection started right at the beginning.  A crowded town with nowhere to be born, a paranoid king seeking His destruction, a time of exile away from the people whose Scriptures pointed to His coming.    Few knew his value and that continues today.  The door is shut.  The powerful follow their own ‘truths’.   Even the hearts of the faithful can grow cold. 

If Christmas has any value it is an opportunity to warm our hearts in the glow of the story.  Not the Christmas card cosiness but the blaze of God’s fullest revelation of Himself in a human life.  Beginning as a single cell in the womb of a young woman, growing ‘in wisdom and in stature’, becoming a man who would die upon a cross and rise again to show that God still had business with this world.   His purpose continues to renew the lives of men and women making us fit for the wonder of His New Creation. 

By the way, not every expert accepts that the £351,000,000 painting is a true Leonardo.  That’s what happens when you are a ‘Saviour of the World.’   Not everyone responds wholeheartedly.  But Christmas is a reminder of how far God is willing to go to convince us of His love.   He believes we are worth saving.  Now that is something to celebrate.