Some have called him an artist. The Great Painter, who could take an empty page of existence and suddenly fill it with a breathtaking sunset using only a few strokes of his brush and able to mix colors so alive and rich that all attempts to duplicate them have fallen short. Others consider him a sculpture,  capable of bringing his subjects to life.  Without a doubt he was creator of the most beautiful objects in the world. Some knew him as a farmer, preparing the soil, planting, nurturing and harvesting all that is good and tasty. Still others will always see him as a craftsman. the Master Craftsman. For he mastered and worked wonders with everything he chose to put his mind and hands to. As we look back we regard him as one, but he was more than one. He was a potter, a mason. a carpenter, a silversmith, a designer and builder, a poet, a composer, a gardner and landscaper and the list goes on. He built vessels that could withstand  storms on a raging sea and dwellings with foundations that would  stand up to any weapon hurled at them and remain strong even when surrounded by all the shaded violence that the world could conjure up. It was obvious from the beginning that his creativity was unlimited as he dipped his hands into every medium. One of his favorite hobbys was to search for that which had been broken and battered, deliberately lost and written off as worthless. Then he would do his miraculous work of salvaging and restoring in plain view of all who followed his footsteps. Now, the short fall in assigning a title to a person, is that no single descriptive word or phrase can accurately nor completely describe any of us. However, for the purpose of this story I will refer to him as the Master Craftsman. In all that he did, his workmanship was unequaled. Even by today’s standards, he continues to stand alone in his field and his many remarkable attainments inspire others to rise above mediocrity.

Of course, as with anyone who is successful at what they do, there are those who will try to minimize their accomplishments, slander their name, doubt their capabilities and even deny their very existence in order to elevate themselves in the eyes of others. To the value of us all, the Master Craftsman was never swayed by the critics, skeptics and doubters who refused to acknowledge his unique abilities. Instead, with a keen awareness of truth and a commitment to excellence, this one of a kind artisan moved forward, executing his mission with an undying love. As time went on, his project activity was so widely spread that you could sense his presence just about anywhere.

One day, as he was resting, the Master pondered his accomplishments. He was well pleased with the results of his efforts, although, deep inside he knew that his greatest work was yet to be done.  He contemplated everything that it would entail. His emotions raged within him as he considered the great  personal cost that this work would demand of him. He was faced with a delima…. If he chose not to move forward with his plan, the heartbeat of all he had created previously would be lost forever…. If he did pursue it, for everything that would be bound up in this project to be effective, it would have to be given away to the people of the land. He was not so naive to assume that everyone would appreciate the sweat drops of blood that would be an integral part of this project. On the contrary, he was deeply saddened by the thought that some may refuse his gift, laugh and scoff and turn away…. But he was certain there would be a remnant who would believe in him, understanding the purpose of what he was about to do and with open hearts accept it as the perfect masterpiece, given away out of the Master Craftsman’s love for the people….. Consumed with compassion, he decided the people would be worth his sacrifice.

One early morning in the springtime when a rain shower was just ending, after gazing at a rainbow of promise, the Craftsman strolled through his garden and there he selected one tree from all the others. He watered it, nurtured it and guarded it until it grew strong and true. One day he said to the tree, “your wood will become famous and it will be able to support an enormous burden.”  Then he  went on a search for a particular metal that he would need for this project. When he had selected just the right metal for the job, he crafted three fragments of it down to a fine point at one end and cut the other end off leaving it thick and blunt. Then he set them aside until the proper time.

As with any fine artist or craftsman, a strong passion for what they do drives them to reveal their heart and soul as they pour themselves into every detail of their work. And so it was with this ingenious creator. To him, timing was everything.  The people were longing and waiting with anticipation to see what he was up to. The need was undeniably desperate. The Master Craftsman was aware more than anyone that what he was about to do had never successfully been done before and would never be done again. Oh, there were many temporary imitations, but once he had completed this work, they would be obsolete. He would have one chance and nothing less than perfection would be acceptable. The craftsman was about to present to the people a masterpiece so amazing, that all who dared to gaze upon it would experience at least a hint of the resolve, purpose and heartfelt love that stirred it’s creator in the beginning. The result would be a work of art that was priceless.

Being the author and perfecter of his greatest work, the Master was fully capable of completing every detail on his own. However, in his wisdom and in good faith, he chose to enlist others to play some of the important roles. “This,” he said,” will add a personal touch to my work so that my reason for doing this can be comprehended by everyone.”

Now, the Master Craftsman had a son who had always worked along side of his father. As a matter of fact, they were inseparable. The son was often quoted as saying,”I must be about my fathers work!” Much of the time, those who knew them well referred to the two of them as,”one”, for it was evident that they were of one spirit. One day, as the they were recounting all that they had done together and finalizing their plans for the masterpiece, the Craftsman said to his son, “I have considered all the options and there is only one way this will work. You alone will be the deliverer of this finest gift of all time. Although, for the people to accept it, you will have to live among them for a while. Actually, you will need to become one of them by being part of a family that lives in the land. There is a young couple who will be getting married soon. I have watched them closely and I am convinced that they will be the perfect family for you to stay with. As we speak, I am sending a messenger to inform them of your arrival. One more thing my son, you will have to finish this precious work on your own. I must stay here and watch over things, but we will be in touch daily. While you are living there, you will be put through many tests. You will be tempted in ways that no one person has ever been before. You will carry a burden heavier than any man has ever been able to carry. There will be dark opposition to our work as this world has never seen. And son, there will come a moment when you will ask me why I have forsaken you. Remember this always; when you hurt, I will hurt. When you are lonely, I will be lonely. But, when you rise to victory, we will be victorious together. You will know when our masterpiece is finished. After you have announced it’s completion to all the people and presented it to them as a free gift, then it will be time for you to come back here with me. In the years that follow, many of the men, women and children who accept the gift you offer them will be coming here to live with us. So, we must be busy preparing places for them to stay.”

Moved deeply with love, in a way that could only be defined through the ages of eternity, the Master Craftsman sent his Son away. The rest is divine history, written by the hand of God to offer to the world His greatest work. Giving us His only Son, Jesus,  who was perfect, blameless and without sin. He would take your sin and my sin upon Himself to become, The Lamb of God. Making us, when we accept this gift, holy and acceptable in the presence of The Father and The Son and The Spirit.

The Bible states in John 3:16 – 17 , ” For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” How easy is our part, huh? To believe, to trust, to accept. I don’t pretend to know what it was actually like for God to plan and bring to fulfillment all that was necessary for us to enjoy the gift of salvation, but at the same time, I never want to forget that my redemption was much more than a casual thought in the mind of God. The Bible is clear. From the time sin entered the picture, God began planning a way for you and I to escape the penalty and wrath of our sin and be delivered safely into the arms of Grace and Mercy. These verses in John, chapter 3, are so beautifully and simply worded that it can be easy to miss what the two words, “so loved”, encompass within the realm of God’s compassion for you and me.

If you can find a few quiet minutes alone, try this experiment. In your own handwriting, paraphrase John 3:16 something like this: For God so loved me, (insert your name here) that He gave His only Son, so that if I believe in Him, I will never perish but I will have everlasting life. Then pray. Thanking God for what He did to provide salvation for you and for the faith He gives you to believe and trust in His Word. Do you think, if you were the only person on earth that needed salvation,  God would have done all this just for you? The answer is YES! That’s how personal His love for us is. In chapter 14 of John, Jesus is promising that he is going to the Fathers house to prepare a place for us so that one day, where He is, we may also be. Can you imagine, knowing the abilities, workmanship and the creativity of God, what our home in Heaven will be like? Have fun dreaming about it and looking forward to your new home!

Oh by the way, for the sake of the story it is written in past tense, but let that fool you. The master Craftsman is still in business today. Creating, planing, designing, restoring and of course, a couple of His specialties; finding that which was lost and mending broken things. As a matter of fact, I just saw Him the other day in a prison, doing some of His great work of salvaging for that which, by popular vote, was believed to have been of little value.

What kind of work do you need The Master Craftsman to do for you today? Desire all that He has in His tool box for you.