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The Case Of The Dead Bullfighter

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The Case Of The Dead Bullfighter


I stood mesmerized in Makielski’s Art Store. This was my second trip in as many days. The high price tags on many of the paintings told me I could only look, but I enjoyed looking.

The first trip I had purchased some art supplies and paints for my air-brush. I then ventured into the room where hundreds of paintings hung on the walls from floor to ceiling. The works of the masters and others hung there. Some paintings I recognized from photographs in books. Most, I did not.

The picture I was fascinated with was very macabre. What was wrong with me? Why was I drawn to this one? It was such a horrible picture of death. Was something wrong with my personality? I didn’t know for sure, so I worried a bit.

Manet ~ Dead Matador, 1865

The picture was of a dead bullfighter. There was no crowd showing in the picture. There was no bull looking down on him victoriously. The only other thing of prominence was a bullfighter’s cape, which was still clutched in the victim’s hand.

This was the second day in a row I had stared for long minutes at this dead man’s picture. Why? Was there a story here? Finally, it came to me like a bolt of lightning!

I put myself into the picture. I felt I could almost feel a bit of the moment captured by the artist. It was like I could see the screaming crowd as they went silent. Mother’s gasped and clutched their babies while trying to cover their tender eyes. Little girls couldn’t look at all. Young boys were mesmerized by the horror. Trained men herded the bull out of the ring and into an open chute, which led it back to a holding pen.

The wife and family of the bullfighter just sat there momentarily stunned. Then, overwhelmed with grief, they convulsed in tears. Their worst nightmare had just come true.

For years he had seemed so invincible. Now this! His death would bring his family pain, on every level, for years to come. Their life as they knew it, was now over.

  • He had lived for the crowd’s approval.
  • He loved the danger.
  • He thrilled at the excitement of a bull’s near misses.
  • He always felt he was in control.
  • He had bested many bulls over the years.
  • He was a professional.
  • He loved the prestige.
  • His name was on posters and signs.
  • His name was well-known.
  • He didn’t like his wife and others asking him to quit.
  • He’d said he would know when to quit.
  • But now he was dead.
  • His blood was starting to pool on the ground.
  • Death had triumphed.

There he was, a spectacle for all to see.

My mind snapped back to reality. I knew why I was drawn to the picture. I told the clerk I wished to purchase the print. I quickly paid the $42.95 marked on the price tag.  The salesman wrapped it carefully in brown paper. I took the print directly to my office at the church and hung it in a place of prominence.

A few weeks later, I had an occasion to counsel with a young man who was struggling living for God. We sat in my office and I listened to his story of worldly involvement.

When he finished, I invited him to look at the dead bullfighter. I said, “Do you know what happened to him?”

I paused for just a moment as his head turned and he looked, not knowing what to say. I really didn’t give him time to answer the question.

“He played with it, until it finally killed him.” I said.

I let that sink in as I watched his face. Then, I finished my thought.

“And, if you keep playing around with sin, it will finally kill you.”

The young man cried.

So did I.


Written by Martyn Ballestero

September 21, 2012 at 12:06 am

9 Responses

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  1. Thank you Bro. Timely. Again, thank you.


    September 21, 2012 at 4:44 am

  2. This post is so sad but true, and I want to thank you for it!

    Charlotte Mills

    September 21, 2012 at 8:00 am


    sharon luster

    September 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

  4. Oh my word. I love how your mind works. You never cease to amaze me!!! So, so true!!


    September 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

  5. Very well stated Bro. B. Sobering. What’s more important, the lure of being known and adored by thousands of fans or teaching and protecting the 4 in your home, that Love you? Seeing your name in bright lights and on billboards or knowing it’s written in The Book of Life?

    Jeff Lawrence

    September 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm

  6. Bravo! What power illustration.

    J.J. Oropeza

    September 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm

  7. What a powerful lesson for young and old alike! I believe I would be safe in saying most of us have something in our lives that tempt us. And most of us have the attitude, “I’ve got it all in control.” Thank you for the reminder that eventually our sin WILL get us if we keep messing with it long enough!

    Crystal Smith (Morris)

    September 22, 2012 at 2:09 am

  8. thanks for these great words. oh if every person old r ypoung could hear this.

    Norma Bailey

    September 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

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