This parable is one I wrote for a lesson for my Sunday Morning Class. I hope you are inspired by it. I had to give this one a happy ending as I hope all of us realize our blessings in God.
There was once a wise and good king whose heart was devoted to the people. His policies enabled full crop harvest, markets to flourish, industry to abound, and trade to grow. Because of the king's wisdom and vision roads, bridges, hospitals and schools were established. From lowest to highest all subjects of this noble king lived healthy and happy lives during a peaceful and golden age.
As the King grew older, people worried what would happen when he died, "Who will rule then," they asked, "and would they continue his good works?" So, the king announced that when he turned 60 he would name his successor. He had many choices, his son, Prince Marcus Titus, or his nephew, Duke Frederick. There was another who sought the power of kingship, the king's half brother Prince Lester, an evil and cruel man who was known as the Black Earl.
However, the youthful Prince Marcus, was the favored choice. Like his father his heart was for the good of the people. He wanted to build hospitals, orphanages, schools, and to make people’s lives even better. His ideas would make the country more prosperous and the people more wealthy than ever. Duke Frederick was a bitter man. Vain and self seeking, he felt slighted by the circumstances of life and wanted the place of ruler. He was unpopular, except for those who spent their time in drinking houses and adventuring over the countryside.
The king's birthday came and he announced Prince Marcus would succeed as king. All people in the land rejoiced- all except Duke Frederick. Slinking away to one of the drinking houses he and his foul friends drank themselves into a bad mood
“I wish I could poison that uppity, smart, pup of a prince!”Duke Frederick complained to his table of cronies
“No, that won’t do." His friends cautioned, "Prince Marcus is healthy, poison will be found out. It will be the gallows for us all.”
"I know who might help you." Suggested one of the surly drunk men at the table. "The crazy old hermit who lives in the hills. He is always brewing up some poison or another. Maybe he has a drug that will do the trick. Something to only kind-of kill the prince."
"Excellent idea!" Said the Duke, "I will see this mad hermit straight away." That night Duke Frederick rode into the dark thickly forested hills and found the Mad Hermit’s hut. The mad hermit was an old man with a white beard who wore animal skin robes. “I want to ruin the prince. I want people to hate him,” sneered the Duke.
“I have just the thing,” the hermit said. “It is an amnesia poison- it will push back his memories.” “So the prince will forget everything? Will he be an ignorant fool?”
“No; it is very selective, causing one to remember some things and forget others. He will remember he is Prince Marcus but will forget what a prince is, and how to be a prince. He will remember his name and that he will be king, but he will forget what it means. He will not act with the prince’s authority or confidence. When he stops behaving like a prince the people will despise him.” “Great, but will it wear off?”
“No, but it may be undone. You must remove all reminders that he is a prince, such as his royal robes, royal seat next to the king’s throne, crown, signet ring, royal sword. Any symbol of what he is must be taken away; for just touching anything that represents his true identity will undo my drugs effect."
The next morning Duke Frederick saw an opportunity to drug the prince. Each dawn Prince Marcus would practice with the soldiers in the parade field before breakfast, and the soldiers loved him for it.After an hour of sword, lance, archery and combat drills, the prince would take breakfast with these men. While Prince Marcus was exercising at arms of war Duke Frederick stole into his rooms and took anything that was royal. He replaced the royal robes with common folk's clothing, the royal sword with a walking stick, the crown with a felt hat. Duke Frederick stole into the hall of judgment and replaced the prince's throne with a milkmaid's stool.
Finally, the Duke went to the kitchens and found the soldier's breakfast. Taking the serving cart he wheeled the breakfast to the men and the prince. With a sly hand he slipped the drug into the prince's food.
“Cousin, are you serving us breakfast?” Prince Marcus exclaimed when he saw the Duke putting the plate of porridge, cheese, ham and eggs before him.
“If my Lord can honor the guard with sword practice can I not honor my prince and his companions as a servant?”
“Well said Duke." The prince replied. "Those who wish to lead well must also serve well.” The prince ate his poisoned meal, and was affected by it immediately. Joking in a rude common way with the men, he made thoughtless remarks like, “Sergeant, If I had a mustache like yours I would shave it off right away and my lip too." The men were offended. The prince stood up and without a salute left the puzzled men.
His rooms seemed different but with his mind fuzzy by the drug he didn't know why. He put on the rags, hat and strapped on the sword belt. In the sheath was a walking stick. “What should I do with this thing? Maybe I should take a walk. After all it is a walking stick.” Near the door now sat common workers tools, a pheasant's bag and a fishing pole, the drugged prince took them and went out.
Dressed in the common clothes he left the castle ignoring the guards who saluted him. These guards, too, were hurt at this and offended. On the streets people cheerfully waved at him but he sauntering on not waving back. People wondered at this changed behavior and appearance. He spent the day fishing at the river, catching a few small fish then wandered through the city, to find a fish market, and sold them.
"Do you know the way back to my home?" He asked the fish monger.
"Why your highness, take the road to the top of the hill, your castle is there."
At the castle he wandered around and finally went to bed, but with a mind affected by the poison, he slept in the stables with the horses. "How I wish I had a real room and a real bed instead of straw in a stable."
The next morning a servant shook him awake. "Prince Titus, the king needs you in the hall of judgment." Following the servant to the hall he stood lost and confused in the crowd until someone told him to sit next to the king. A servant went to the alcove to bring the throne but found the milk maid's stool. So, the prince sat next to the king on the milk maids stool.
"Where is the prince's throne?" Everybody asked. "Has he become a clown- or a fool? Is it some political statement that he sits on the milk stool? Has he joined the anarchists?"
Prince Marcus sat looking around unsure of himself and feeling wrong like he didn't belong. Next to him was his father, the king, but he didn't think of him as either father or king, just someone sitting next to him.
The great hall doors opened and in strode three warriors in black armor, ambassadors from the king's brother, Lester, The black Earl. "Your brother, the Earl, request you send right away grain, beef, and gold to pay for his service and his troops for guarding the western frontier.
The king turned to Duke Frederick. "Nephew how do you counsel we should answer the ambassadors from my brother?"
Duke Frederick smiled inside, seeing his opportunity to ruin the prince. "Your majesty, what counsel has Prince Marcus? Is he not among the captains of your guard? It is time he proved his worth in such matters."
Almost blind from age the King did not see the prince dressed in commoner's clothes and sitting on a milk stool. "Prince Marcus, what answer should we give these three men."
Staring open mouthed at the three dread warriors with their mighty weapons and arrogant attitudes, he blurted out. "I don’t know! Just look at these men, they are fearsome. Give them anything they want!" He fled out of the throne room casting a terrified look over his shoulder at the warriors. Those who witnessed his fear lost respect for his leadership.
Later that day the three warriors departed, hurrying away to tell their master the earl that leadership in the kingdom had collapsed.
The guards grumbled that Prince Marcus failed to practice arms with them. People were upset that he had lost his friendly manner, and castle servants mocked him.
Prince Marcus often wandered around the castle looking for something to eat. "I wish I could have decent food to eat." Even though he was the prince and the greatest chefs would cook anything he wanted, he scoured the scraps out of the dog's bowls then sat on a stair step and ate greasy mush with his fingers. Often he slept in the stables, and sometimes in the courtyard; he wandered the city, lonely and friendless during these days. Seeing noble people riding fine horses he longed to be one, even thought he already was. Watching people wearing fine clothes he wished for some not realizing his were in the castle. He would want better things than the commoners rags but felt they were never to be his. The Black Earl, assured of the weakness in leadership, marched his black steel clad men into the city. The king was too old to lead solders in battle, and Duke Frederick was too cowardly.
Prince Marcus was at the river fishing when the invaders rode past in their armor and horses"How I wish I could be one of them." He thought. "I wish I could ride a horse and wear armor. I wish I had a gallant sword to wield against a foe. I wish I knew how to do such things and be such a man." He had forgotten he was a prince and a captain of solders.
The invaders conquered the leaderless army in an hour and imprisoned the king in the castle dudgeon.
The prince wandered the streets begging food, lost among refugees. Earl Lewis began to rob the country starting with the castle. The royal treasure was stacked high on carts to carry back to the Black Earl's estate.Treasure laden carts creaked as they rumbled down the street. The city's broken people wept to see the country’s treasure leaving, it was as if hope and the future was being taken away.
The prince stood,feeling small in the crowd, wishing something would happen, wishing to be able to lead, inspire and save the country. Watching in despair as carts rumble over the cobbled streets.
The Black Earl's solders and horsemen crammed the street. They moved slowly and cautiously as wagons groaned under the weight of the great wealth of gold and silver.An axle broke, shearing a wooden wheel off and the wagon tumbled on its side, casting treasures among the crowd.
"Pick those things up, you beggars!" the Earl's soldier yelled. And;pile them next to the cart while we fetch a black smith." Prince Titus shuffled among impoverished people and began to pick up spilled treasure. A box lay on it's side. Under it was something strange and familiar. He shoved the box upright and there in the mud was his own royal sword. He picked it up and something happened. Feeling the sword hilt in his hand had a familiarity to him. His arm felt the weight of the blade, like a good old friend. Raising the sword, his eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched in a face now set with a warriors hardness. He remembered.
Leaping on the fallen cart he yelled out. "To arms! To arms all faithful men! Archers to the roofs. Knights of the guard rally to me! Bar the city gates let none of the black army escape." When people saw his attitude and courage they recognized he was the prince. A battle cry spread through the narrow streets and the city rose to combat. Narrow crowded streets were not the open fields the Earl's army trained for. Archers rained arrows upon them and the people overwhelmed the trapped army. Victory was swift and complete.
Duke Frederick's poison was found out, and he was imprisoned, the Black Earl fled to live in exile. Prince Titus Marcus was named Regent and ruled until the king died in peace and then was crowned King. He ruled wisely and with vision for many years and his rule was a blessed golden age in the history of that land. When visitors to the Hall of Justice wondered at the fishing pole leaning against the king's throne, King Marcus Titus would say, "We all must never forget who we truly are and always act accordingly."
***Many Christians know they are given riches, blessings, and son-ship but never act on it. They say "Yes, I am a Christian." But they don’t realize what it means. We need to know who we are, not who we feel we are, or who other people say we are. As Christians we are given position, the Holy Spirit, gifts, blessings, fruit, relationship and much, more, we must avail ourselves of it.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called the sons of God!"" 1 John 3:1a, NIV