Jesus Will Return to Judge the Living and the Dead
A story is told of a wise and good king who was beloved by all his subjects, from the poorest to the most wealthy. The king was fair in all his rulings, merciful in his judgments and kind even to those who disagreed with his policies. The people of his kingdom loved their king fiercely, and it was not uncommon to hear them praising each other by naming a good deed “kingly” or challenge each other to “be more like the king”.
So it was with great sadness they received the king’s announcement one day that he would be leaving. He had some business across the sea, and he didn’t know how long, exactly, he would be gone. In the meantime, he entrusted a group of his closest followers to rule in his absence. He charged them to rule as he ruled, to be wise and gentle and just and kind. They all vowed they would, and with that, the king departed.
Years passed, then decades, and the king did not return.
One day, thousands of miles away, the king set off for home. He had received word that all was not well in his kingdom. His followers had become divided, and injustice was not an uncommon thing. Because the king was wise, he knew he could not simply ride triumphantly back through the gates. He knew that, upon his return, all his followers would swear they had always been loyal. He had to know for himself.
The wise king disguised himself as a beggar, and sneaked back into his own kingdom. He travelled the length and breadth of his kingdom, visiting every city, noting carefully how he was treated in each place. He experienced firsthand which of his followers truly were faithful, who treated him with dignity and kindness even in his lowly state. And he noted who ignored him, or even worse, trampled him underfoot, spat in his face, degraded and dehumanized him because of what he seemed to be.
With that, the king left his kingdom once again. He washed and exchanged his beggars’ rags for royal robes. And he prepared to return to his kingdom.