When We were Auctioned Off!

Church auctions are kind of fun. Members compete with each other to win, with their bids, various items and services for fundraising purposes. I’ve been to a lot of those, as I’m sure many of you have. Have you ever been involved with other kinds of auctions?

Do you do eBay? I’ve been on it for decades and sometimes people will do what is called “bid sniping.” They wait to the last few seconds and bid a comparatively high bid, with no real time left for the competition to outbid them. I missed out on a serious dinosaur bone that way!

Another time on eBay I was outbid on a genuine Charles Darwin funeral pass to Westminster Abbey! I prayed about it before I put a hefty (for me) bid on it. Alas, serious Darwin fans easily outbid me well into the realm of four figures. Sigh…that was another one that got away.

On that theme, that is, one that “got away," I have another story. This one involves yet another collection hobby I have…one of Biblical numismatics. I collect coins of the Bible and have written and spoken at universities on it. It’s totally fun for me. As such, I’m on a few auction house mailing lists and I get their catalogues for upcoming ancient coin auctions. Once I got such a catalogue and discovered that they were offering an incredibly rare coin of Constantine. 

This coin was a bronze coin, the size of an American penny. The rare part of the coin was its reverse: it had a Roman standard with a snake on it, the words “SPES PUBLICA” (Latin for the “peace of the public”)…and it had a CHI-RHO to the side of the standard. The “Chi Rho” symbol, showing the first two initials of Christ in Greek, is the first time a Christian symbol showed up on a Roman coin. As such, it was very, very significant. But there were only a handful of these in existence.

I looked at their “auction estimate” for it; this is what they think the final price range would be. Their write up on the coin was correct, it was a nice example and so on, but their price estimate was $700-$1000. Nonsense! It was worth much more than that, and I was fully prepared to spend accordingly. But to my great sorrow there were other informed bidders, obviously educated as to the coin’s true worth and they probably had much deeper bank accounts than me. As such, the bidding quickly traveled north of $5,000, way out of my range. That one got away to a bidder who knew exactly what he was doing.

An auction estimate is based entirely on what previous records were of similar items’ final bids. I thought they didn’t have a correct estimate on this coin because nobody ever sold these before. There was no real comparable.  

Did you know that you and I were already in an auction? Someone placed a bid on us at Calvary; Someone who would not be outbid. Heaven’s complete bank account was bid for your and my lives. I don’t know what the auction estimate was, but we were bid on by the only One who actually knows our true worth. The gaveled price was the Son of Almighty God. No one, not even Satan himself, could match it. And we have been won by Someone who rejoiced in their successful bid.

I for one am glad that my life did not represent an auction item…that got away!


Stan Hudson

North Pacific Union Conference creation ministries director