“Sold to the Nazarene!” “What!?” The pretender cries out, “That was no bid; he was throwing up his hands in surrender!”
I went to an auction at the Public Auction Yards in Billings years ago with Ralph, my father in law who was selling his calves. I had not sat in the buyers seats at too many auctions at this point, most of my livestock auction experience had been on the other side of the gate, as a teenager I had worked at Billings Livestock and on sale days it was my job to push the frantic cattle through the banging hydraulic gates and into the noisy sale ring. So anyways, here I sat just to watch. I had a buyer’s card in my hand that I was using just to keep track of how the sale was going. I was just starting to raise up my own herd and I wanted to learn what the buyers were liking.
In the midst of the sale I turned to say something to Ralph and gestured with my hand to the calves in the ring, suddenly the auctioneer acknowledged a bid and the price went up. I had a sinking feeling as I realized the hand I had waved had the card in it and that was how the buyers were signaling their bids—waving their cards. Much to my relief someone else bid up the calves but then I felt like a fool as I sat there with a deer in the headlights look as the auctioneer then looked to me trying to illicit another bid. Not only did I not want the animals being sold, I did not have any money. I learned to keep my hands in my lap when at an auction lest you buy something you don’t want!
Sale day in Jerusalem
There was a day some two thousand years ago now when there was another auction going on. Though you weren’t aware of it you were there; you and the whole human family herded into the sale ring like so many sheep. It was a huge sale and there were a lot of spectators, the sale barn was filled mostly with demons and angels but there were only two buyers; the one known as the Prince of Darkness, the deceiver, and the other, the carpenter from Nazareth, the Son of God.
The auctioneer is the Father himself and he opens the bidding high, eternity is at stake but there are no bids. The auctioneer sings out “Who’s gonna bid, who’s gonna bid, who’s gonna bid today!”- Some in the ring cry out; “Will no one redeem us!” While others, ignoring the high steel rail wall holding them in, shout them down saying, “No one needs to buy us, we are free!”
What they don’t realize is that they are all slated for slaughter unless they can be redeemed, they may spend some time in blissful ignorance being fattened up first but they are marked for slaughter all the same. There is a debt to pay and this sale is their only hope, the hope that the price paid for them is high enough to pay what is owed because they violated and maliciously abused the free range law of the Kingdom and the law cannot be ignored; no exceptions, no more promissory notes.
Unbeknownst to those in the ring there is a buyer who wants to bid, the gentleman from Nazareth, but he is being prevented from being heard by the other registered buyer. But it turns out Prince Darkness is not really there to bid, he is actually trying to stop the sale altogether claiming that he owns those in the ring because they have been grazing in his pasture for eons and he has every right to lead them to slaughter. “They are wearing my brand!”
The sale goes on, the lone legitimate buyer desperately trying to be heard but no one can hear him over the din of the spectators and even the voices of some of those in the ring shouting that the buyer from Nazareth has no right to bid. “We must hold out for another!” they claim. Suddenly a fight breaks out and the brawling fills the auction barn and it seems that the pretender; Prince Darkness, is gaining the upper hand, he has even managed to strip the other buyer of everything, taken away everything from his clothes to his dignity, even his identity, leaving him nothing with which to bid. The auctioneer, still working every trick he knows to secure a bid, is watching intently the struggle going on in the seats when suddenly he sees two hands go up.
Those in the ring cry out, some with despair and some with jeering exaltation as the auctioneer slams the table top with his open hand and shouts out “Sold to the Nazarene!” “What!?” The pretender cries out, “That was no bid; he was throwing up his hands in surrender!”
The auctioneer calmly points out that the price he was demanding was in the hands of the buyer when they went up. At this every eye turned to see the blood flowing from the wounds in the hands of the Nazarene. “This was no surrender”, the auctioneer explains; “this was no mistake, the price has been paid, the price set by the original owner to redeem this flock, should it stray, was death—blood.”
“The blood of the Son of God is the price sufficient to purchase the entire flock, the only payment sufficient to cover the debt.” The bidding is closed, the bill of sale being written.
Suddenly the successful bidder falls to the floor and the pretender again shouts out, “He is dead! How can he claim his flock, how can he open the gates and turn out his sheep when he is dead? I win by default! The slaughter is imminent! They all must pay the price on their own because the sale has been nullified!”
The auction barn goes crazy, the spectators, demons and angels, shrieking for joy, or wailing with grief, respectively. While those in the ring all argue over what has just happened.
Just when it seems all is lost and the auctioneer has even been discredited, the high solid gate to the pen is suddenly flung open and there, silhouetted in the sunlight suddenly pouring into the dingy ring is the Gentleman from Nazareth. Silence falls over the auction barn as everyone comes to grips with what has just happened. The Father, the auctioneer just smiles and hands the bill of sale to the Nazarene. The bill of sale signed with blood, notarized by the Spirit and recorded by the Father in the Lambs book of life.
Incredibly, some choose to stay in the ring as many are led by the Nazarene, Jesus by name, into his pasture where they are tended and groomed to be presented to the Father; eyes and coats shining. Some refuse to budge, still not believing that the sale, or the buyer, was legitimate. Meanwhile the pretender is slowly backing his rig up to the opposite gate of the ring ready for the front gate to close. Eager to take every straggler he can to the end prepared for the pretender himself.
Which gate are you going to use? You can’t stay in the ring forever. There are no more bidders, only one had the price required to redeem you. One thing I learned about sheep when I worked the auction yard- you can’t push them like you can cattle, they have to be led. Us cowboys used a halter broke ram, in slaughter houses they use a goat aptly called a Judas goat. A good shepherd doesn’t need a goat or a ram, his sheep know his voice and they follow him. Jesus is the Shepherd, follow him.
2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice….
…Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” John 10:2-20
Are you listening to him, do you hear his voice? Unless you believe he was stark raving mad, you have to choose, choose to listen, or choose to remain in the pen and let the thief, the pretender, lead you to destruction. Choose life, choose freedom- choose Jesus.