I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me (John 15:15).
Deep in the American South, toward the end of the 1800s, some folks in a small town were getting ready for an event taking place that afternoon. This wasn’t a typical event like a carnival or a wedding though. No, these folks were setting up for a slave auction.
As hard as it is to look back at the reality of something as shameful as a slave auction, at this time they were still lively affairs—at least for those who were only there to observe. Many of the townsfolk would come to watch the wealthy plantation owners arrive in their fancy coaches and bid on new workers for their growing operations.
The work on these plantations was physically demanding, so the strongest and most muscular slaves would fetch top dollar.
Elijah, however, was not one of these powerful men. He was a small boy who was sure to be overlooked by the majority of the bidders. He knew before he even stepped in front of the crowd that he would likely be purchased by one of the smaller farms—if he was purchased at all.
The small farms, because of their reduced resources and income, were notorious for demanding impossible amounts of work from their slaves. Sometime, the owner could only afford one slave, and he would be isolated much of his life. Worse yet, many of these owners were known to beat their slaves violently if they couldn’t keep up with the demands.
Elijah was understandably frightened as he was forced onto the bidding stage.
The auctioneer held out his arm out towards Elijah and shouted, “Do I hear a dollar for this… this… runt of a boy?”
The crowd jeered with laughter.
“I need something to replace my mousing cat,” shouted a man in the front. “I’ll pay a dollar.”
“I need someone to clean up under my horses. He’s just the right size! I’ll pay two!” another man yelled.
As the auction progressed, the bidding climbed slowly but still remained far below the price of a typical slave. Elijah became more and more embarrassed as the crowd continued to belittle him.
He was ashamed.
He felt worthless.
The life of a slave was horrible enough, but adding public ridicule was almost too much. Elijah wished this life of torment forced upon him would somehow end.
But then, a man from the back stepped forward. “I will pay the highest price for this young man. I see value in him that none of you see, and I must have him as my own.”
Everyone, including Elijah, was shocked. But the man was indeed serious, and he took Elijah home with him that day for a sum far exceeding what anyone had expected.
As soon as they arrived at the man’s sprawling estate, Elijah asked him what his first job would be. He knew there would be nothing but endless work for him on a plantation as large as this man’s.
“No, Elijah. I did not purchase you to extend your slavery. I purchased you to set you free from your slavery. From now on, you will live not as my slave, but as my son—and as my friend.”
You and I may never have suffered the cruel fate of slavery in the American south, but we all were slaves to something far more sinister.
We had to endlessly strive toward overcoming our sin and reaching a point of perfection—a job that none of us could ever fulfill. We were like the young Elijah, unequipped for the demands forced on us.
We faced a future without any hope of freedom.
Thankfully though, God loves you far too much to leave you hopeless. He bought your freedom, knowing that you would never be able to pay for your own release from slavery. He paid your ransom—at the unthinkable cost of His Son’s blood—to purchase back the right to your soul for eternity.
Now, because you are set free in Christ, you are no longer a slave.
You are no longer chained to the impossible yoke of a cruel taskmaster.
You are God’s friend, and He has set you free.