(Wis 2:223-3:9, Ps 34:2-3,16-19, Lk 17:7-19)
“God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made them” (Wisdom 2:23).
Two old and damaged guitars sat, side by side, in the flea market. Their varnish was partially peeled off, strings were broken, and their wood was cracked in various places.
A producer from a local drama group was gathering props for his next play. He needed a worthless guitar to use. An actor would, in the middle of the play, angrily slam the guitar against a wall smashing it to smithereens. So he bought one of the guitars for a few dollars.
About the same time an elderly musician noticed the other guitar sitting on the table. He imagined what that guitar must have looked like when it was new and thought of how he might restore it.
Several months later the first guitar found itself buried inside a dumpster that sat in the alley behind an old theater. It had served its purpose. Its neck was broken and its drum was torn to pieces. The guitar waited to be moved to its final resting place in a local landfill.
The second guitar, on the other hand, was found in the gentle hands of the old musician who used it to bring happiness to hundreds of people in a concert hall. After hours of loving labor, the caring musician brought every detail of the instrument back to life. It looked like new and had the rich sound that only an aged guitar can bring.
One buyer saw a guitar as a piece of junk whose only use was to be used as a prop. The second buyer, however, saw the hidden power inside the broken and neglected instrument. In time he was able to draw out the rich music hidden inside it.
Just as the old guitars were viewed differently by two different buyers, so we human beings are viewed differently by two different “buyers.” The first “buyer” is the One who created us in the first place. His intent was that we be imperishable as he formed us to look just like him. From our mother’s womb he planted deep within us heavenly music. He longed for the day when he would hear this music gently rising from us to heaven.
Wisdom, next tells us about the other “buyer.” “But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.” Those instruments that the Devil bought followed his plan for them, which was death. He did not see humans as made in God’s likeness, but as perishable, worthless objects that belonged in a junk pile.
Then we are told about what happens to those whom God “bought.” “But the souls of the just are in the hand of God”—held securely in his restorative hands, God works with them. “Their hope if full of immortality.” They will never taste death nor end up as a worthless piece of nameless junk in some landfill. “As gold in the furnace, he proved them and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.” The divine craftsman carefully takes each of these souls and works diligently with them until they are fit to play music in his own dining hall.
There was a time when each of us was sitting on a table in a flea market. And just as the Devil was about to pay a few bucks for us, God stepped in and out-bid him. Beneath our brokenness he saw a treasure made in his own image. With the precious blood of his only Son, he bought us, and since then we’ve been kept safely in his workshop while he prepares us to one day add more glory to his banquet hall.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves” (Ps 34:19)