King X vs. King Y

This week, Aish sent out an E-mail from Rabbi Zev Leff who cited an interesting parable from Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. It struck a chord with me because of the tendency in some Christians to ask (not always rhetorically), “What would Jesus do?”

I’m not aware of any Biblical support for this theology. I don’t know of any Old Testament story where someone asked, “What would God do?”, or any New Testament record asking “What would Jesus do?” If anything, it’s “What would God (or Jesus) have me do?”

“Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth.”–1Sam 3:9-10

“And he trembling & astonished said, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'”–Acts 9:6

Sure, there are instances where we do the same thing Jesus might do, but there’s a subtle distinction. Keep the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) in mind as you read this story (which I took the liberty of modifying slightly from the original version):

King X bet King Y a billion dollars that he could convince King Y’s prime minister to disrobe publicly. King Y could give his prime minister any instruction he wanted as long as he did not reveal the wager.

King Y, wondering if his prime minister was faithful, informed him that he was being sent to visit King X’s country for a week, & he could do whatever he pleased with one exception: under no circumstances was he to disrobe in front of others.

A few days after his arrival, King X called in the prime minister & asked him how he had become a eunuch. The prime minister responded politely that he was not a eunuch. King X was not easily persuaded, so he wagered a million dollars that the prime minister was lying out of embarrassment. To establish who was right, the prime minister was to simply disrobe in front of the royal court.

The prime minister accepted the wager despite King Y’s order. He reasoned that the bet was a sure thing, he was proving the truth of the matter, & King Y would be pleased with the financial success of his visit. The prime minister disrobed, & promptly proved his point.

The royal court acted surprised, & reluctantly concurred that he was not a eunuch. The prime minister restrained himself from smiling with pride, & King X also restrained himself from laughing as he paid the prime minister a million dollars.

Upon returning home, the prime minister promptly reported his profit, & paid King Y a tithe of $100,000. King Y then made an inquiry as to the details of the prime minister’s trip, who in a roundabout way eventually admitted to disrobing, albeit in the name of Truth & Honor for King Y.

But instead of being delighted, King Y became wroth. “You think I’m pleased with your measly hundred grand, but you’re a fool! You cost me a billion dollars because you failed to follow my solitary order! I thought I could trust you, but now your service is of no value to me at all!”

The analogy between this story & that of the Bible from Adam in the garden to Jesus on the cross is self-explanatory & striking.

Song of the week: “Leaving On A Jetplane” by John Denver (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 19-second sample; 262kb).

G.M. Grena

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