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J. Vernon McGee spoke this story many years ago on the radio to explain an undeniable Biblical truth.

In your mind go back in time about 150 years or so to the days before the Civil War. Imagine you are visiting one of the great cities of the South like Savannah, Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson or New Orleans. As you approach the center of town you hear a commotion as a crowd gathers for a public auction and you gather round to watch the proceedings. The first thing you notice in the crowd is an uncouth, foulmouthed, loud, boisterous man who you know, by reputation only, as the meanest, cruelest, most hateful man around.

You also notice in the crowd another man who stands out for his dignity, genteel mannerisms and soft-spoken tone, and recognize him also by reputation as a most kind, gentle, and gracious man. Both men, along with the crowd wait for the auction to begin.

Finally the auctioneer steps to the podium and begins rattling his words as the first item to be sold is brought to the auction block. There before you is a beautiful young black girl, about 20 years of age. Her dress is old and torn, but remarkably clean. She is obviously filled with anxiety and fear as the bidding begins.

From the outset the loud obnoxious man seemed to have his evil eyes set on this lovely, innocent, young lady. She obviously knew of his reputation and cringed in fear as he opened the bidding.

When the kind gentleman saw her fear, he too placed a bid. Soon only these two men were involved in the bidding as the price of the girl rose higher and higher. Finally the evil man bowed out of the bidding when realized that the price of the girl was more than he was willing to pay.

When the auctioneer closed the bidding the kind gentleman paid the price for his purchase, was handed the Bill-of-Sale and turned to leave. The young girl started to follow her new master.

He then turned to her and asked, “Where are you going?” “Why, I’m going with you,” she responded; “You bought me and I belong to you.” “Oh! You misunderstood,” the man said, “I didn’t buy you to make you my slave, I bought you to set you free.” Then he took the Bill-of-Sale and wrote across in big block letters – FREE! – signed his name and gave it to the girl. “I don’t understand,” the girl said. “You mean I am FREE!” “Yes, you are FREE!” ‘I can go wherever I want and do as I please.” “Exactly, You are FREE!”

“Mister, I don’t know who you are, but no one has ever shown such love and kindness to me. If I am free to do as I please, nothing would please me more than to go with you and serve you till the day I die.” And that day she went home with Abraham Lincoln, not as his slave, but as his willing servant.

While the story may be true, my guess is that it is an allegory. But it appropriately illustrates the great doctrine of Redemption! It tells the story of our slavery to Satan and sin; the cruel intentions of the enemy of our soul; and the gracious purchase, at an incredible price, by Jesus; not to make us his slave, but to set us free. How could we respond in any other way than to say, “If you love me that much, I’ll serve you forever!”