There once was a great ruler (The Ruler). The Ruler reigned over all the land, and there was none greater than he. He took the best of all he owned and freely gave it to his people. His love for them was steadfast – unrelenting; some say it was a reckless love.
The Great Ruler was unlike any other, in that his rule wasn’t enforced by demand. He was a quiet and gentle ruler. He desired his subjects to choose to love him as he loved them.
Most of his subjects were good and kind. Although The Ruler did not require their allegiance, they served him faithfully and feared him with a kingly reverence that was due him.
There were others, however, who did not honor The Ruler. Their hearts were selfish and filled with disdain toward others.
These unsubmissive subjects (The Unsubmissive) were thieves, murderers, and belligerent; they were judgmental, arrogant, and respecters of no one. They would take from the poor, and mercilessly kill those who didn’t conform to the “socially acceptable way.”
They were even abusive to their own wives and children. They wanted no ruler, and they sent that message to the him by allowing hate to reign supreme in their hearts.
The Ruler’s faithful subjects (The Faithful) were furious at The Unsubmissive for their thankless and treacherous ways. They fashioned their own swords and weapons of many kinds and set out to demand respect for The Great Ruler.
The Unsubmissive weren’t afraid at the revolt. It seemed the fight was a welcomed one, and it so it endured.
The Great Ruler’s love for those who dishonored him was unwavering. He sent messengers to the battlefields urging The Faithful to retreat. It was not his desire that any should perish.
Likewise, he begged those who hated him to reconsider. The Ruler knew that his request to The Unsubmissive would likely fall upon deaf ears.
He was proved right.
What greatly surprised The Ruler, however, was that The Faithful refused to lay down their swords as well.
Their allegiance was true, but their ability to listen to The Ruler’s plea was clouded by their judgments against The Unsubmissive. The Great Ruler’s heart was broken.
He didn’t know what to do.
The Great Ruler, lost in his grief, was visited by his son, a young prince (The Prince) who came to him with an idea. The Prince suggested that perhaps The Ruler’s people would respond to his love if he were to send The Prince out to model The Great Ruler’s love for them.
The Great Ruler hadn’t considered this because he desired to rule from his throne — not forcing any of his subjects to love him. The Prince knew this and he assured his father that he wouldn’t disobey his wishes.
He would live with the people, peaceably demonstrating The Ruler’s love for them, while also expressing to them how The Ruler genuinely desired to be loved in return.
Reluctantly, The Ruler allowed his Prince to go.
The Young Prince, having never been outside the palace walls, was surprised at what he found in the kingdom.
He learned that many of The Faithful had written rules and commands in the name of The Great Ruler. The Faithful knew that the heart of their Ruler was for them, so they established these laws to try to bring order to the chaos.
The Prince quickly learned that the authors and enforcers of these laws weren’t easily swayed.
They had convinced themselves, and others around them, that these rules were the way of The Great Ruler; and they were quick to judge those who wouldn’t abide by them. Many of those judged — Faithful and Unsubmissive alike — were put to death for treason against The Ruler and their laws.
To be one of the law-lovers was to be favored, elite, accepted.
The Young Prince realized that he couldn’t begin his mission by teaching these law givers. They didn’t even recognize The Prince as The Great Ruler’s son because their hearts had become more faithful to their laws than to The Great Ruler.
So The Prince set out to befriend those who everyone else despised because they were the only ones who might receive him and The Great Ruler’s message.
He entered the circle of the outcasts.
He chose fishermen and prostitutes. He chose thieves. He chose the poor and the homeless. He chose the sick and the maimed.
These subjects had nothing to offer The Prince, and he asked nothing from them. He simply desired their affection as freely he offered his own, and they gave it to him.
It wasn’t long before the outcasts began to recognize who The Young Prince was. News quickly spread that The Great Ruler’s son had come to live with his subjects.
Stories were shared throughout the kingdom — how he lived as a homeless man, how he joined their celebrations and provided wine, how he visited the sick, and dined with thieves!
From dining tables and street corners, from hillsides and mountain tops, everywhere he went The Prince told the subjects of The Great Ruler’s love.
As word spread, crowds of people were now rushing to hear his message.
His message never changed, but the subjects wanted to hear it over and over again. He gladly shared it, but occasionally changed his approach.
When they asked him who The Great Ruler was, his reply seemed foreign — they didn’t believe it could be so simple.
“My father, your Ruler, is Love,” The Prince said.
“But we’ve been told that in order to receive his love, we must follow the law!” The Prince replied, “I have come as the fulfillment of your laws. The Great Ruler requests only your love and for you to love your fellow subjects.”*
Encountering his love, many were persuaded by The Ruler’s message just as The Prince and The Great Ruler had hoped.
The authors and enforcers of the law were outraged when they heard his message. They said, “Who can make such claims? Only The Great Ruler can say these things! Are you The Great Ruler?”*
The Young Prince replied, “I and The Great Ruler are one — our love is for all mankind.”*
Sensing the hostility of those against The Great Ruler’s message, The Prince fled and hid from his persecutors.
He sent a message to The Great Ruler that said, “Father, I long for the time when these subjects can be with us and witness our rule of love, which comes from you. You have loved me from the beginning. Father, you are just; The Unsubmissive and the authors and endorsers of laws do not know you, but I do. As for the followers whom I love and have loved me, we speak of your love often; and I will continue to speak of your name (Love) — in order that your love, which you openly lavish on me, will be in them. And my love will also be in them. Together, Love will rule their hearts.”*
The Prince gathered his closest friends together for a meal.
Dining together he told them, “You and I are one. My body is yours, my blood is your blood. You are my hands and my feet. The message The Great Ruler has given me, I now give to you. Go and share it all whom you encounter. Tell them of my love for you, and your love for me. Tell them of The Great Ruler’s love for them! The desire of The Great Ruler is that none should perish. His love is above their laws; his love is greater than their disobedience. Love wins the hearts of The Unsubmissive. Go, and be unto others as I have been to the outcasts — as I have been to you.”*
That would be The Prince’s final meal with his friends.
The message of love and acceptance The Young Prince gave angered the authors and enforcers of the law. They said he was “a heretic spreading blasphemy.”
They couldn’t accept that The Great Ruler could love and accept anyone freely. Afterall, how could any ruler desire unsubmissive subjects? Surely he required everyone to follow rules and regulations in order to be loved and accepted as members into his kingdom.
One beloved follower of The Prince had his heart deeply sown in a desire for wealth. He hadn’t understood the message that The Prince had come to give him.
This beloved follower left and went to tell the enforcers of righteous living where The Prince was hiding. In exchange for his information and leading them to The Prince, he was given a great sum of money.
The beloved follower proved his misunderstanding of the message that The Great Ruler gave by betraying The Prince with a kiss.
How deeply The Young Prince was hurt by betrayal in the act of love — a kiss.
Another beloved of The Prince was outraged by this act! He picked up a sword, and attacked one of the soldiers there to take The Prince away.
The Prince immediately scolded his beloved follower saying, “Have you not heard the message of The Great Ruler? Do you not understand who I’ve called you to be? Know this: there remains only one way in which I can share The Great Ruler’s message with every subject, and it must be this way. Let them take me.”*
The Young Prince was brought before the authorities, and they inquired of him, “Are you the ruler of these subjects?”*
The Prince replied, “This is not my kingdom. If it were, my subjects would be fighting now for my freedom. I have come to demonstrate the message of truth — the message of The Great Ruler.”*
Indeed The Prince was about to show all of The Great Ruler’s subjects exactly what that message was.
He had spoken of it once with his friends saying, “As my father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you subjects, because a subject does not know The Ruler’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last… This is my command: Love each other.”*
So it was that The Young Prince was sentenced to death. He would go to a sure and painful death to ensure that the message of The Great Ruler was known.
At the place of The Young Prince’s death were two other men also being put to death. Both were unsubmissive subjects of The Great Ruler.
One of them turned to The Young Prince and said, “I have disrespected The Great Ruler, and I am getting the punishment I deserve. Will Love’s kingdom remember me?” The Young Prince turned to him and replied, “You have understood The Great Ruler’s message, and you are in Love’s kingdom.”*
The Young Prince breathed his last breath shortly thereafter, yet the message he brought remains today.
The Great Ruler still has unsubmissive subjects, and there are even still some enforcers of the laws the authors penned those many years ago.
But there are new followers of The Prince who still earnestly share the message he gave.
The message from The Great Ruler and his Prince is this:
“I am the way — the path; My path is love. I am the truth; my message of truth is that I love all mankind. I am the life. No subject may approach my father, your Great Ruler, except by Love’s way; love The Great Ruler, and love your fellow man as your Ruler and I have loved you, and you will find life.”*
* All scriptures used were derived or paraphrased from: The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.