The Parable of the Pardoning King

By David Servant

Once upon a time, there was a great king who ruled his kingdom in truth and righteousness. But there were enemies living within his kingdom who broke his laws, and whom he discovered were plotting to overthrow his rule.

The king laughed when he heard of their plot, knowing that his enemies were no match for his armies, and because his informants knew of his enemies’ every move and intent. So, he decreed that in ten days, all of his enemies would be rounded up and executed for treason.

He mercifully decided, however, to give all of them an opportunity to be pardoned. And he sent his messengers throughout his kingdom with this message: “The great king would like for all his enemies to know that they have ten days to come to his palace, lay down their arms, and pledge their allegiance to him. If they will do that, he promises to fully and freely pardon them as a gift of his grace.”

When his enemies heard the good news, many of them came streaming to his palace from all over his kingdom. When they arrived, they surrendered their weapons and pledged their allegiance to him. As they did, he declared that they were pardoned, and that he would not treat them as enemies, but as friends and citizens. They, in turn, praised Him for his Amazing Grace, and they thanked him for the gift of forgiveness.

But when some of the king’s enemies heard the messengers, they found fault with their announcement. They said, “You are delivering an inaccurate message! If the king is offering a full and free pardon as a gift of his grace, then He cannot require that we surrender our weapons and pledge our allegiance. If that were the case, then the king’s pardon is not a gift, but is earned! Your message is not one of grace, but of works!”

And they took offense, not only at the messengers, but also at those from among their evil friends who streamed to the palace to lay down their weapons and pledge their allegiance.  They mocked those who turned from their rebellion, saying, “You are trying to earn your pardon by your works! Grace is unconditional, and clearly, the messengers are proclaiming a false message! As for us, we will not surrender our arms or pledge our allegiance to the king, but rather we will simply accept him as our forgiver!”

Ten days later, all those rebels were rounded up and executed for treason and stupidity.