Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Tale Of The The Severe Judge

The Severe Judge
In days of old when towns were circled by walls there was a country village. It was an ordinary village with a church, a main street lined with merchants, homes all around, and a village square where important things happened. The people were led by a mayor, constable, some solders and an old judge, who was very harsh, and was known throughout the land for being most unsympathetic. He ordered hangings so often that the gallows in the village square was a permanent fixture and a constant reminder of the penalty of wrongdoing.

One day the constable with the solders caught three bandits and brought then to the judge to answer for their crimes. The three were bound with chains and stood before the sour faced judge in the crowded court room. All could see through the window the shadow of the gallows predicting the outcome of the trial. Witnesses and victims spoke against them until their crimes were numbered into a long woeful list; the judge's scowl deepened and his mood darkened as the day wore on.

the three bandits

Finally the legal counselors gave the concluding arguments. The prosecution condemned the bandit's actions as vile, malicious, premeditated, and worthy of nothing less than the most severe punishment.

"The defense counsel may speak." The judge growled while glaring at the men.

"Your honor in light of all that is said, and the overwhelming evidence I can think of no defense to offer. We ask for mercy."

"Humph," Sorted the judge.

"You! What do you have to say for yourself?" The judge sneered pointing a bony finger at the first of the three bandits.

"Your honor." The man stammered.  "I did not want to grow up to be a bandit. As a boy I wanted to be good and to do good.  I never learned what goodness was. My father was a harsh man and gave me severe beatings. He would beat my back raw with the whip or a club, and never explained why. I never knew though he did it often and said it was for my good. And when I did something that my conscience told me was wrong he did not give any punishment. So I never knew which was right or wrong. I always wanted to be good not bad. I wish I was good but no one ever showed me how."

For a long moment the judge considered his remarks.  "You!" He bellowed at the second man. "What do you have to say for yourself?"

"Your majesty." He whimpered. "As a youth I never dreamed I would become a bandit. I had hopes of entering the service of the king or my community or the Abby. But I too had a father who disciplined me severely. He was a merchant and came in after a bad day and forced me to bear some punishment or other without explanation or teaching. He had a cold spirit and was never concerned for my moral instruction. The chastisement  he gave me did not teach nor did he try to instruct me in right and wrong. What discipline he gave was for his good and not mine. I wanted to do good and be good."

The judge's face wrinkled deeper as he considered. "And you!" The judge leaned over the table pointing at the third man. "What do you have to say?"

"Your honor," He croaked between sobs. I too never wanted to be a bandit. I always wanted to do good to my fellow man. As a youth I hoped to be kind and generous. Yet my father was an angry bitter man and he never trained me to be anything but bitter. He mostly ignored me and was too busy to teach right from wrong. If I ever did something that didn't please him he would punish with long periods of hunger and cold in far excess of my crime. He never taught me the reasons for his punishing of me, he seemed to punish randomly and to no purpose. I would have grown into a noble man but he starved the goodness in me.

The judge sat silently for a long minute looking at the three men with disdain and loathing. "Guilty! At dawn tomorrow the guilty will be hanged."

The three spent the night in the dungeon weeping for their sins and lost lives. Each made peace with his fate, praying to God and seeking salvation. The light of dawn slowly crept through the bars of the window foreshadowing the arrival of their last day on earth.

The hangman
The hangman entered their cell. "You must wear these blindfolds."

"May we not see the light of one last day?"

"The judge considers it a mercy to blindfold you now so you will not see the horror of the gallows."

With hands bound and blindfolded they climbed the gallows steps, walked across the wooden deck and were made to stand before one of the six hanging nooses. They heard the angry merciless shouts of their victims. Each felt the weight of the nose as it was placed around their neck and tightened against their skin.

They stood still waiting and listening to the sounds of their last moments.  The people began to cheer and shout. The three heard the sound of a trap door fall open and a thump as one fell through to death by a snapped neck. The sound of the second trap door creaked open and a thump of another who fell through to snap their neck. They each heard the sound of the third trap door opened and a thump of the body falling to his death. Yet all three stood waiting for the door under their feet to vanish under them to bring them to their eternal judgment.

"Take heart." the Hangman said. He unbound the hands of each and took off the noose. "Remove your blindfold," he ordered. With trembling hand each took off his blindfold and blinked in the bright morning sun. Looking around they saw the crowd, they saw the judge standing before the gallows, and each saw that next to them hung a man dead at the end of the noose- his own father.

The judge climbed the gallows and stood before the men. "The guilty have been punished. Go your way. Learn how to do good and sin no more."


We have a heavenly father who is not at all like our earthly fathers though they do their best they are not all wise all loving or all knowing like God. God's discipline is wise. He disciplines us for our good, and he brings our discipline to an end at the right time. He knows our need and in love tempers the discipline we experience giving us no more than we can endure. Consider Hebrews 12:4-12.

(C) Adron Dozat