The southern African village of Ha Sethoto was ruled by a strong but foolish
headman. He decided to break away from the rule of King Poelano, though the
king treated everyone in his kingdom fairly and well. The king could easily
have destroyed his village but instead he sent his oldest adviser to sit down
with the elders at their court under the baobab tree and reason with them. The
representative said the king had sent him to invite their village to return to
his kingdom. The king was very concerned about them. Had he offended them?
Had he oppressed them? What was wrong, and what could he do to make it right?
They were too embarrassed to admit they had no real grievances against the good
king. They tried to cover up their embarrassment with anger. They lashed out
with defiant words. The messenger stayed calm and that infuriated them even
more. Finally they became so enraged that they viciously beat him and killed
him. Like butchers they drained his blood into a clay pot and sent it to King
Poelano as their reply to his invitation.
A terrible wailing went up as the news spread through King Poelano’s village.
Everyone expected the King to send his warriors immediately to deal with this
horrible insult. With their spears and arrows they could easily wipe out the
village of Ha Sethoto. They could make an example of the village by burning all
its houses and all the maize fields around it. Then people would know what kind
of a king he was and what happens to people who flaunt their disrespect for him.
However, the king did something completely different, something unforgettable,
something that showed what he was really like. There was a huge flat rock near
his home where he would always stand to speak when he called the leaders
together from all across his kingdom. He poured out the blood of his messenger
onto that rock to dry under the hot African sun. Then he ground the dried blood
to powder and put it into a medicine pouch made of lamb skin. He sent the pouch
to the rebellious village with this message: "The blood of the messenger you
killed is in this medicine pouch. It may bring you life or death. Though you
killed him, I still invite you to come back into my kingdom on one condition.
You must take some of the dried blood of my messenger, mix it with water and rub
it on your hands. Then come, stand before me at the great flat rock and hold up
your hands. In this way you will admit that you killed my messenger but you now
want to be received back into my kingdom. With the ground under your feet as my
witness today, I declare that if you trust me and wear the blood of the
messenger you killed, his blood will be the means of reconciliation between us.
I will welcome you back into my kingdom. You will not even have to pay a fine or
suffer any other punishment.
"But if you despise the blood of my messenger, I will know that you choose to
continue to despise me as well. Then I will send my warriors on you like
locusts. Because you have rejected me not once but twice, you will pay with
your own blood, every last drop of it. The king has spoken. The medicine pouch
is in your hands. What will you do with the blood of the messenger?"
Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
If you had helped kill the messenger, would you believe the king’s message and
go to the king to reconcile in this way? Why or why not?
If you had been one of the good king’s advisers as he was considering this
situation, would you have advised him to send this message offering
reconciliation or would you have advised him to send the army? How would you
have tried to persuade him toward one choice or the other?
If you were a loyal subject of the good king and you heard he had made this
offer to the rebels, would your respect for your king increase, decrease or stay
the same? Why?
4. Some people say
that what God did for humanity through Christ is like what the good king in the
parable did for the rebels (except that the king sent his oldest adviser and God
sent his only son). Would you ever use this parable when you were preaching or
explaining the gospel to a friend? Why or why not?