For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
David Morse, an American missionary to India, became great friends there with the pearl-diver, Rambhau. Many an evening he spent in Rambhau's cabin, reading to him from the Bible, and explaining to him God's way of Salvation.
Rambhau enjoyed listening to the Word of God, but whenever the missionary tried to get Rambhau to accept Christ as his Savior he would shake his head and reply, "Your Christian way to Heaven is too easy for me! I cannot accept it. If ever I should find admittance to Heaven in that manner I would feel like a pauper there . . . like a beggar who has been let in out of pity. I may be proud but I want to deserve, I want to earn my place in Heaven and so I am going to work for it."
Nothing the missionary could say seemed to have any effect on Rambhau's decision, and so quite a few years slipped by. One evening, however, the missionary heard a knock on his door, and on going to open it he found Rambhau there.
"Come in, dear friend," said David.
"No," said the pearl-diver. "I want you to come with me to my house, Sahib, for a short time I have something to show you. Please do not say 'No.'"
"Of course I'll come," replied David. As they neared his house, Rambhau said: "In a week's time I start working for my place in Heaven; I am leaving for Delhi and I am going there on my knees."
"Man, you're crazy!" said David. "It's nine hundred miles to Delhi, and the skin will break on your knees, and you will have blood-poisoning or leprosy before you get to Bombay."
"No, I must get to Delhi," affirmed Rambhau, "and the immortals will reward me for it! The suffering will be sweet for it will purchase Heaven for me!"
David responded, "Rambhau, my friend you can't. How can I bear you to do it when Jesus Christ has suffered and died to purchase Heaven for you!"
But the old man could not be moved. "You are my dearest friend on earth, Sahib Morse. Through all these years you have stood by me in sickness, in want you have been sometimes my only friend. But even you cannot turn me from my desire to purchase eternal bliss . . . I must go to Delhi!"
Inside the hut, David was seated in the very chair Rambhau had specially built for him . . . where on so many occasions he had read to him the Bible. Rambhau left the room to return soon with a small but heavy English strongbox.
"I have had this box for years," said Rambhau, "and I keep only one thing in it. Now I will tell you about it, Sahib Morse. I once had a son . . . "
Astonished, David replied, "A son! Why, Rambhau, you have never before said a word about him!"
"No, Sahib, I couldn't." Even as he spoke, Rambhau's eyes were moistened. "Now I must tell you, for soon I will leave, and who knows whether I shall ever return? My son was a diver, too. He was the best pearl diver on the coasts of India. He had the swiftest dive, the keenest eye, the strongest arm and the longest breath of any man who ever sought for pearls. What joy he brought to me! Most pearls, as you know, have some defect or blemish only the expert can discern, but my boy always dreamed of finding the 'perfect' pearl, one beyond all that was ever found. One day he found it! But by the time he found it, he had been under water too long . . . and that pearl cost him his life, for he died soon after."
The old pearl diver bowed his head. For a moment his whole body shook, but there was no sound. "All these years," Rambhau continued, "I have kept this pearl but now I am leaving, never to return. To you, my best friend I am giving my pearl."
Rambhau worked the combination on the strongbox and drew from it a carefully wrapped package. Gently opening the cotton, he picked up a mammoth pearl and placed it in the hand of the missionary. David knew this pearl was one of the largest pearls ever found off the coast of India . . . it glowed with a luster and brilliance never seen in cultured pearls. It would have brought a fabulous sum in any market.
For a moment David was speechless and gazed with awe. "Rambhau! What a pearl!"
"That pearl, Sahib, is perfect," replied Rambhau quietly.
David quickly looked up, realizing this to be the very opportunity and occasion he had prayed . . . an opportunity to help Rambhau understand the value of Jesus' sacrifice! David said, "Rambhau, this is a wonderful pearl . . . an amazing pearl. Let me buy it. I would give you $10,000 for it."
Rambhau replied, "Sahib! What do you mean?"
"Well, I will give you fifteen thousand dollars for it," David said, "and if it takes more, I will work for it."
"Sahib," said Rambhau, his entire body stiffening, "this pearl is beyond any price. No man in all the world has money enough to pay what this pearl is worth to me. On the market, a million dollars could not buy it. I will not sell it to you. You may only have it as a gift."
"No, Rambhau," David responded, "I cannot accept that. As much as I want the pearl, I cannot accept it for free. Perhaps I am proud, but that is too easy. I must pay for it . . . or work for it . . ."
Rambhau was stunned. "You don't understand at all, Sahib! Don't you see? My only son gave his life to get this pearl, and I won't sell it for any money. Its worth is in the lifeblood of my son. I cannot sell this pearl, but I can give it to you. Please accept it as a token of the love I have for you."
David was choked-up, and for a moment could not speak. Then he gripped the hand of the old pearl diver. "Rambhau," he said in a quiet voice, "don't you see? My words are exactly what you have been saying to God all this time."
Rambhau looked long and searchingly at the missionary, and slowly, slowly he began to understand.
"God is offering to you Salvation as a free gift," said David. "His gift of Salvation is so great and priceless that no man on Earth can buy it, as millions of dollars are too little. No man could ever work it off, his life would be millions of years too short. No man is good enough to deserve it. It cost God the life-blood of His only Son to make the entrance for you into Heaven. In a million years, in a hundred pilgrimages, you could not earn that entrance. All you can do is to accept it as a token of God's love for you, a sinner. Rambhau, of course I will accept the pearl in deep humility, praying God I may be worthy of your love. Rambhau, won't you accept God's great gift of Heaven, too, in deep humility, knowing it cost Him the death of His Son to offer it to you?"
With tears rolling down his cheeks, Rambhau was beginning to understand. In a soft voice, he said, "Sahib, I see it now. I have believed in the doctrine of Jesus for the last two years, but I could not believe His Salvation was free. Now I understand. Some things are too priceless to be bought or earned. Sahib, I accept His Salvation!"
Romans 5.15-17But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16, 17