One night in Iowa, at a horse auction, my daughters begged me to buy a beautiful palomino mare out of the "kill pen". At a horse auction, the "kill pen" is where the abandoned, abused horses are dropped off for quick cash. But if no one bids on the horses in this "kill pen", they are taken away to trucks, and then hauled away to slaughter.This mare looked like she had good breeding, but she had obviously been mistreated, and was quite nervous. She appeared as though she might be a "problem horse". In spite of this, I bid on this mare, and we took her home. She became one of the best horses we have, even though we knew nothing about her when we bought her. As it turned out, her bloodlines were very good. Ironically, her name turned out to be Jessibel- very close to the name of Jezebel in the Bible.
It took a while for Jessibel to trust us. At first, she would not come close to me, but through the tenderness of my daughters, and my wife Karen, she eventually became a gentle horse, and easy to ride. Now she lets me ride her, too-and she's given us a beautiful foal. Michael says that in the story of this horse, I saw myself and my own soul. It inspired him to write the following lyrics:
THE KILL PEN
WELL- HELLO THERE, DEAR MAMA, I CAN SEE YOU'RE MIGHTY SCARED.
I CAN SEE YOU'VE BEEN RAISING BABIES
IN A PASTURE SOMEWHERE;
BUT THEY TOOK AWAY YOUR BABIES,
LEFT YOU ALL ALONE- AND THEN,
THEY STRIPPED AWAY YOUR PRIDE,
AND BROUGHT YOU HERE TO THE KILL PEN.
NOW THEY'RE BRINGING YOU INTO THE AUCTION RING,
AND I CAN HERE THEM SAY,
"HOW MUCH WILL YOU GIVE ME, BOYS
TO TAKE THIS HORSE AWAY?
IT LOOKS LIKE SHE'S GOT GOOD BLOOD LINES,
BUT SHE WAS LEFT ALONE TOO LONG,
NOW SHE'S GOING TO THE DOGS IN THE KILL PEN,
UNTIL SHE'S GOING...GOING...GONE."
BUT I CAN READ BETWEEN THE LINES, GIRL-YOU AND I ARE JUST THE SAME;
WE'RE BOTH AFRAID OF TRUSTING,
BUT DO NOT BE ASHAMED.
I WAS ONCE ABANDONED, TOO-
BUT THERE'S STILL TENDERNESS WITHIN.
SO I'VE COME TO BUY YOUR FREEDOM
AND GET YOU OUT OF THIS KILL PEN.
YOU SEE, YOU AND I ARE JUST ALIKE, THEY TRIED TO TAKE MY BABIES, TOO THEY TRIED TO KILL MY SPIRIT, I WAS TREATED JUST LIKE YOU.
THEY LIED TO STRIP ME OF MY PRIDE,
THEY TRIED TO SHAME ME TO MY FRIENDS.
BUT THEN A VOICE SAID,"COME AND FOLLOW ME,
I'LL GET YOU OUT OF THIS KILL PEN!"
YOU SEE, LONG AGO, THERE WAS AN AUCTION, AND THE AUCTIONEER DID SAY, "HOW MUCH SILVER WILL YOU GIVE ME, TO TAKE THIS ONE AWAY?"
AND THE PRISONER HAD GOOD BLOOD LINES,
BUT FOR ME, HE WAS CONDEMNED...
HE SHED HIS BLOOD UPON A CROSS,
AND GOT ME OUT OF THIS KILL PEN.
SO READ BETWEEN THE LINES, FRIENDS-WE'RE ALL JUST THE SAME.
WE'RE ALL AFRAID OF TRUSTING,
BUT DO NOT BE ASHAMED;
WE'VE ALL BEEN ABANDONED
BUT THERE'S STILL TENDERNESS WITHIN-
SO WON'T YOU COME AND FOLLOW THE ONE
WHO'LL GET YOU OUT OF THIS KILL PEN.
(written by Michael Martin Murphey and Karen Murphey)
In this meditation I want to share with you a story of a young lady who was condemned to be in a Kill Pen. In Luke's Gospel chapter seven we read the story of a Pharisee named Simon. He invited Jesus in his house to a dinner party. It was a house of a wealthy man who lived in the luscious green mountain land of Galilee. Pharisees were a society of pious men zealous for keeping the Law of God. Their name originates from an Aramaic root word that means "separate and distinct."
Simon had also invited the gentry of the town among them were professors of law, bankers, doctors and a few other well-educated men of repute dressed in their finest dark pin stripe suits. In the Gospels we learn many Pharisees suffered chronically from self-righteous attitude. In Luke chapter six the Pharisees argued with Jesus over the Sabbath. "How dare Jesus let His disciples do work on the Sabbath: they are picking grain, and He is healing the man with the wither hand." The Gospel reveals that Pharisees watched Him closely for a chance to accuse Him. They did not like Jesus but they were not sure how to deal with him.
Simon had dressed his dining table with elegance, fine dinnerware and the best silverware. It's all so proper-respectable. While the best of food was being served to the dignitaries and serious conversations likely centered on theology. On this high profile night a woman entered the room. She's not the kind of woman you'd ordinarily invite to a nice party. And here she is at Simon the Pharisee's home - unescorted, uninvited, unwanted. The young woman might have slipped in the house by side door, hoping to be unnoticed - standing quietly behind Jesus.
First nobody noticed her presence. This is, until she stepped through the crowd and inched toward Jesus. You can be sure the room grew silent. The clattering of dinnerware and the chattering of busy servants stopped, side conversations at the table became irrelevant. All eyes were fixed on her. Everyone knew who she was and how she lived. She was "a sinner." As she stepped into the space reserved for the invited guests; a chill must have hit the room. Simon the Pharisee sat stunned. She defied all traditions. She came straight before Jesus and fell at his feet. She broke into sobs so deep they released a stream of tears onto the Master's feet, then bowed to kiss them over and over again. 
Now Simon has been watching this little drama unfold. And I can see him getting mad at Jesus. He must have said I have finally "gotcha Jesus! Jesus you claim to be a prophet and you don't even know who this woman is that's wiping your feet with her hair. You don't know that the perfume she's poured on your feet is part of what she uses in her foul occupation to entice men. Yes, I've got him." You know, self-righteousness is an ugly thing.
Jesus can handle insults against his own character. But He was not going to let Simon humiliate this woman's sorrow. She had lived most of her life with feelings of rejection and men who exploited her body for sexual favors. With the precision of a surgeon Jesus proceeds to cut Simon to his heart and reveal the hypocrisy that lay within.
Jesus went on to explain the woman's behavior by telling Simon a story of two debtors. "There were once two men who owed moneylender a great deal of money. One owed $50,000. Another owed $5000. Neither could repay their debt, and so the money-lender -thinking to cut his losses, cancelled the debt of both. Now, Simon, which would love the money-lender more?"
Simon showing his wisdom responded, "I suppose the one who owed most - love most."
Jesus responded: "Well, said Simon, you have judged correctly." Then Jesus literally turned His back on Simon and faced the woman. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
The young women in the eyes of the righteous Pharisees was a "sinner" a condemned women in the eyes of the Law. When he looked at her Jesus did not see a whore but a precious soul created in the image of God. Jesus eyes of compassion fell on her and released her from the Kill Pen. It is a moment of amazing grace in her life and she would have wondered:
"What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
How often we dispose of people, the same way we dispose of animals, before we give them a chance. We judge people as being "inferior", beyond the boundaries of hope and forgiveness, because we judge them to be sinners, while we fail to look at our own weaknesses and sins. But Jesus changes all of that. We are bought out of the KILL PEN by Jesus' Sacrifice, we are forgiven. We are given the gift of New Life, a new heart, and the chance to be trusted and trust again. For Him, there is no one too abused, too neglected, to be beyond hope. 
Jesus is calling to all who are in Kill Pen: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). This is the good news from the Gospel. Thanks be to God.