The Prince and the King, a Parable
|There once was a king who ruled a vast empire which stretched over mountains and valleys, plains and seas, and deserts and tundra. The king knew his only son would one day take the reins of power, and wanted to prepare him for that monumental task.
|One day the king was hosting an ambassador in his court when the young prince suddenly appeared, brushed aside the royal heralds, and approached his father’s throne. Interrupting the visiting statesman in mid-sentence, the prince brashly asked, “Father, I have been thinking. I am a prince, but I want to be king. When can I ascend the throne?” The king, who was as wise as he was just, thought for a moment.
Mindful of the eyes of many dignitaries fastened on his august personage, the king asked his son, “You have interrupted an important meeting with an ambassador. Since you wish to be king, let me test your knowledge.”
The king asked his son about the longstanding trade issue he had been discussing with the ambassador. The prince, dumbfounded, said nothing.
Sighing, the king said to his son, “If you had known more about geography, literature, and history you would have been able to answer my question. Do you know what you should do?”
Ashamed, and with his head lowered, the prince said, “Father, forgive me. I will go study and make you proud.” With that, he bowed deeply to his father and devoted himself to study and to reading all he could.
Five years passed. The prince went to his father’s court and kneeled before his father. When his father beckoned him to approach the throne, the prince rose and asked, “Father, I have studied hard and have been tutored by all manner of scholars. When shall I ascend the throne?”
The king, who was as wise as he was just, thought for a moment. He then asked his son, “You have done well. But I ask you, do you know your people?”
The prince, not expecting his question to be answered by another question, shook his head. He said, “Father, I have been tutored within the walls of this court by many scholars, but I have yet to leave the comforts of your court. I shall go and learn what I can.”
The prince gathered his cloak and traveled the expanse of his father’s kingdom.
Five years passed and the prince returned. His father welcomed him heartily, eager to hear what his son had learned.
After a long night of conversation, the prince grew silent. After pondering a moment, he said to his father, “Father, I have studied all I can to possess the knowledge a king must wield. I have sought the ear of your people so that I may hold their best interests in my heart when I govern. But when shall I ascend the throne?”
The king, with a curious mix of anticipation and anxiety, looked his son in the eye and asked, “You have done well. But I ask you, do you know me?”
The king studied the mix of emotions which played across his son’s handsome face. Seemingly lost in thought, the prince recalled his years of training in the royal academy and the insights he’d gleaned from conversing with the people during his journeys. He was proud of what he had done. Yet when he thought of how his father had sent him away each time he had asked to ascend the throne, he realized his error. Turning to his father with tears in his eyes, the prince fell on his face and cried, “O King, forgive me for my presumptuousness. I thought that taking your place was my birthright. I wanted your position more than I wanted to speak with you and know you. I am not worthy to be king!”
With that, his father took his son’s hands and embraced him, whispering, “Son, today you have started to act like a king, for you know yourself.”
How many times have we studied the Bible, read about Jesus, and even talked with other Christians about Jesus? Yet how many times have we actually spoken with Him in prayer or sought to know him more? We often go through so many admirable activities without investing in a relationship or recalling the reason we serve.
Matthew 7:21-23 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Let’s not be so consumed with doing things- even good things- that we lose sight of why we are doing them and who we do them for. Even doing good work can be an avenue to pride, self-aggrandizement, and other attitudes which steal the glory from the One who deserves it.
Let’s not be found to do good as an end in itself, nor of robbing Jesus of the glory He so richly deserves for working in and through us. Instead, we as Christians ought to be mirrors, always reflecting the glory of the Savior.