(A modern parable written by Jon Howe; showing one of God’s greatest characteristics:)
A long time ago, in a land not unlike our own, lived a noble and honest King.
The King ruled his kingdom with wisdom and honour and expected the same from all the people that lived in his land.
At the end of every month he would invite those that held power and responsibility to come and give account of themselves, whether they were worthy of praise and merit for their good deeds or reprimand for their misgivings.
Amongst those that came and stood before his throne each month, was the King’s own son who shared the task of running the kingdom with Dukes and Earls, Knights and Noblemen.
One month, before the throne of the great king, when everyone else had spoken, the son fell to his knees in shame and embarrassment. He had, in his own eyes, let his father down greatly and repented openly before the hushed crowd around him.
Fearing great punishment, he stood to his feet and awaited his father’s sentence.
As was custom at this ceremony, whoever spoke before the King should give account of the lessons learnt through the experiences of his or her past month and with a trembling voice the son admitted to learning many things about his own sinful nature.
“You are forgiven, my Son!” The King decreed finally.
“Why?” He asked with tears in his eyes. “I don’t deserve your compassion!”
The King looked down at his son lovingly and smiled. “When you know the answer to that question, you will be my son indeed!” and with that, brought the ceremony to an end.
Silently the son left his fathers court feeling somewhat confused.
Why had he shown such compassion to him when he knew he deserved to be punished, he wondered?
A month passed quickly and soon the son found himself back in the presence of his father and once again, felt the shame of having to admit to his weaknesses.
When his turn came to speak, he fell to his knees and repented for much wickedness.
Once again, he confessed to having learnt much about his wayward nature.
After a moments silence the King passed his sentence. “My son, you are forgiven.”
As much as he tried, the son couldn’t understand the reasoning behind his father’s forgiveness.
While others around him were confessing to much lesser crimes and getting severe punishments, he was walking free every time.
As the months passed by, the son’s crimes and misadventures grew worse and worse, each month he confessed to his father and his father always forgave him.
Through time, his heart became hardened and even the thought of standing before his father troubled him little.
In the end, the son confessed to learning nothing.
Until one day, when the son felt as far away from his father as he ever had, a spark of realisation crept into his heart and with it the answer to his father’s lack of punishment for his crimes.
On a galloping horse he rode to his fathers castle and when there, ran to find him in his throne room.
“Father!” He cried, “I need to speak with you.”
With tears streaming down his face, he fell before his father and wept bitterly.
When he was finally able to speak, he stood and faced him.
“Father.” He began. “I have been an unfaithful steward with all that you have given me, and you have given me much.
But I have learned that to serve without love is meaningless.
I have learned that to be your son I must honour you because I love you, not because I fear your punishment.
I can now truly repent before you, because now I truly want your forgiveness.”
“Ah my son.” The King replied. “You have learnt well, for now you know what it truly means for me to be your father and for you to be my son.”
This is one of God’s great characteristics.
See also: Knowing God as Father
Images: thanks to GSP 100,000 Clipart CD