A man died. This was no ordinary man mind you, if he had enemies, he knew them not.
His wealth was above all: ‘it was said’ he owned cattle, sheep, acres upon acres, and he had machinery that several football fields could not contain.
You could see fruit trees for miles, barn after barn, building after building, antiques from all the major wars, library books that you could not imagine, well you get the point, it ‘seemed’ he owned just about everything.
You know, a man like Job. Truly he was a man of unusual distinction: friend of sinners, beloved by saints, and yet in all his riches, he was no friend of the world, for he had learned that a mans life does not consist of the things which he possessed.
He was a man of rare foresight, and he left specific instructions as to (what he called) a few minor details pertaining to his death. First, there was the matter of his eulogy. It was simple: he wanted none, and it was so.
Time sped on, and there were further directions on how to disperse of his property: he wanted a world wide auction, and whosoever will could attend. This man had no kin, and of course he knew the auctioneer, so once more, exacting instructions were left. People came from all continents to this auction, for this was the sale of a lifetime.
People came with high hopes, expecting a piece of history from the most rarest of men. It was a perfect day for an auction, one would think the Lord on High was smiling. (nobody knew that the man prayed for three years that the weather would be agreeable for this day, if it be in the will of God.)
After all the courtesies, the auctioneer banged the gavel, and held up an old picture of a boy. Scrawny looking kid really, about the age of four. The frame was dry rotted, the paper torn and water stained, the glass was shattered, and it reeked of mildew. ‘Who’ll start the bidding with a thousand dollars for the picture?’
The audience looked shocked, for who in his right mind would even bid a dollar for that piece of useless trash, let alone much more? ‘How about five hundred? (And the whispering began) ‘I would not touch that smelly thing,’ a demure woman was heard to say. ‘Do I hear two hundred fifty?’
The auctioneer with his experience scanned his eyes around the property, he must have looked at every single person before continuing, ‘c’mon people, whada ya bid fahr it? It must have some value, wouldn’t ya think?’ By this time, the murmurs had reached a fever pitch, with all the people becoming furious as to their intelligence being insulted, or so they thought.
‘Enough of this, bring out the goods. We traveled from Japan…!’ Others chimed in ‘we want the books.’ A well dressed couple from California said, ‘please do not waste our time.’ These incessant interruptions caused no sweat to the auctioneer, for he must have known to expect this, after all, the master of the vineyard was a good friend.
Finally, a man situated under a pear tree, perched on an old tire, wearing a ragged shirt and a 50 cent straw hat spoke up, ‘I’ll give you one hundred dollars.’ (the fellas name was William, most called him Billy, but his father called him Will) The auctioneer looked his way and said, ‘thank you sir, will anybody give me one hundred twenty five?’ The comments were immediate, ‘probably a deranged local.’ ‘He’s been sitting in the sun too long.’ Well, you get the point.
The auctioneer continued to address that picture with an impartial dignity, for he too was a man of unimpeachable character, and once more searched the audience for another bidder for the old picture.
Finally, to the incredible relief of all present, they heard that word of finality, ‘going once …going twice….sold to the man in the straw hat under the pear tree for one hundred dollars!’ And with that, the auctioneer banged his gavel, and said, ‘ladies and gentleman, this auction is over, thank you for attending….’
You could imagine the immediate confusion and near bedlam of those who came miles to this auction. ‘What?’ People looked confused, and demanded an explanation. But you see, the master of the vineyard sees not as men see. He knows things others do not.
There was one man who knew who that boy was. Bidder 462 recognized the image of a young man who he thought was the son of a wealthy landowner. Yes, he remembered a story about a young lad who was run over by a car, it was the only son of the deceased, who many years earlier had suffered a tragic accident. I will not tell you who the driver was….
The auctioneer turned over the picture, and on the backside under the broken glass, was a court approved signature with these words: ‘I hereby bequeath the high bidder of this picture the entitlement of all that is mine……………….’
You see friend, even in this man’s death, he was a testament of that wonderful truth: ’he that honors the son, honors the father….’ And by the way, to add an element of levity to the occasion, there was a p.s. on a small piece of paper taped under the photograph: ‘If the winning bidder is who I think it will be, do not accept payment for this picture, donate it to whoever needs it, and tell my friend I’ll see him in the morning.’ What foresight knowing all would despise that ragged picture, and like the waves of the ocean, the goodness of God keeps coming, one wave after another.
The honor of the deceased is palpable. His love for the Lord Jesus was manifested in his life, and he used his own death unto the glory of God. He was a faithful man in the smallest of things, a man of virtue, an example of stewardship, a rare blend of faith and works, a pure man, a man in whom was no guile, an honest and righteous man, a man in which the world was not worthy, a man who saw a beggar and himself as equal, a man who knew how to spend and be spent for the kingdom of God, but also a man who wanted no recognition.
The spiritual relations in this account are also manifold. It was said this man owned everything, but by his very words, he owned nothing. He saw himself a Joseph as it were, a caretaker of another man’s things.
Consider: The ability to live a godly life in a godless world, how the wisdom of God was witnessed in a man of means, how a man used things to promote the gospel of God, the obvious character of a man in light of his own funeral, the lesson he taught to thousands about the honor of the Father, (which story was reported worldwide) the value of a faithful man as seen in the auctioneer, the importance of praying without ceasing, the incessant whisperings of the natural man, the uprising of anger, the total foolishness of the heart of man who looks upon outward appearance, the knowledge of a dead man who was certain there would be but one who would honor his son, and a poor man who had nothing, yet possessed all things.
Is the story far fetched? Not at all, for has not the true Lord of the earth freely given unto us all things? And has he not chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise?
What now will the new landowner do with his new possessions? That is not my concern, the important question is : ‘what am I doing with WHAT the Father has given me?________________________________________________________________
Thousands of people were given a paper written by the deceased regarding the despised son of God, and they heard the true gospel according to the scriptures, some perhaps for the first time. I cannot assume that this paper will end up in the hands of all who belong to the Lord. So I ask you: what will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?