Christian Theology, Biblical Theology

"You are no longer under law but grace; therefore, sin shall not have dominion over you" "The grace of God has appreared teaching men to say no to sin"

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True Story Which Mirrors God's Atonement

There is an insightful story from the 7th Century B.C., which illustrates the need for atonement.  In one of the ancient city-states in Southern Italy there reigned a king by the name of Zaleucus, who reigned over the Locrians. King Zaleucus had the reputation of being a just and good king. But, alas, there was lawlessness in his kingdom. Zaleucus was especially concerned about the adultery, which was running rampant.  The King understood that the foundation of a great society was a strong family structure. But the wave of adultery was leading to the breakdown of the family and consequently threatening his kingdom. The king decided that he must take extreme measures to save his city-state. Therefore, the king decreed that anyone committing adultery would be blinded, that is would have both eyes put out. Naturally, the severity of the king's decree put considerable fear in the hearts of his subjects. As a result, the surge of adultery stopped.

Alas, a short time passed, a couple was caught in the very act of adultery. The adulterer turned out to be the king's son, his only son, the prince, the heir to the throne. When the king is informed of the arrest of his son, the whole country is wondering, "How is the king going to respond? Will he enforce the law by blinding his own son? Or will he make an exception to the law? What will the king do; what should he do?"

Naturally, as a father and as a private person, the king does not want to blind his own son, whom he loves. No father would want to do that. But on the other hand, there is the good of the kingdom to consider. The king is not merely a private person; he is a public official.  He is the head of the state. As the monarch Zaleucus has the responsibility to enforce the law. What will happen in his kingdom if he doesn't administer the law? People will lose respect for the law. Men will rightfully reason, “The king doesn't take his own decree seriously. If the king's son can get away with breaking the law perhaps we can also." 

But there is more for the king to consider.  His son is the heir to the throne. He will be king one day. It would handicap his ability to govern successfully if he was blind. On the other hand if he doesn't enforce the law, anarchy and lawlessness could result. 

The king is faced with a dilemma. Either way he goes, he loses something valuable. If he is strictly just, goes stringently according to the law, then mercy suffers. On the other hand, if he was to extend mercy and forgiveness to his son, justice suffers. He is in a quandary. What will he do? Everybody is speculating. The king ponders his situation for a few days. 
          
Finally, he calls all of his court before him, the queen, the noblemen and the noblewomen. King Zaleucus rises from his throne and calls his son, the prince, to stand before him. The king takes a pair of tongs and reaches into a roaring fire and he pulls out a hot, burning coal and he presses it against one of his son’s eyes. Next, the good and wise monarch presses the coal against his own eye. The king burns out one of his own eyes! 
      
What has been accomplished? The king makes atonement. He comes up with a substitute for the penalty of the law. Something else, that will just as successfully, perhaps even more so, accomplish the ends of the law than if he had totally blinded his son. 
      
What is the end of law? It is to uphold public justice, to promote the highest good of all, both the king and all of his subjects 
     
What is going to be the reaction every time the people see their one-eyed king? They are going to be reminded that this is a king that takes his law earnestly.  You cannot break the law under king Zaleucus with impunity. So the king's action is going to promote lawfulness, it is going to promote obedience to the law.   
          
Something else has been gained, that would not have been secured had the king completely blinded his son and put out both of his eyes. The people learned something about the character of their king. "What a loving and self-sacrificing king we have!  One who put out one of his own eyes for the good of us all, for the good of the kingdom! Now any ruler, any president, any king, any governor can govern so much more successfully if he has the love and the respect of his people than if he merely has their fear. 
          
Oh yes, if he would have totally blinded his son, people would have had a greater fear of King Zaleucus. They would reason, "What a severe king we have.  He would not even make an exception to the law for his own son!" Burning out both eyes of his son would not have encouraged loving obedience.  It would not have ended up promoting good government and justice as effectively as his substitute for the decreed punishment. 
          
But something else is revealed about the king’s character. Zaleucus’ atonement gave the king a greater opportunity to reveal his wisdom. "What a wise king we have who could come up with such a creative solution to his dilemma." The people would have to conclude, "There's no one in the entire realm more worthy to govern us, more deserving to rule over us than our good, wise, and loving King Zaleucus."  So the king, by making atonement--coming up with a substitute for the penalty of the law--not literally fulfilling the punishment of the law, but coming up with a substitute for the literal penalty of the law reveals his wisdom. The king’s atonement should have the effect of discouraging any future rebellion or lawlessness on the part of the people. They are not going to want to overthrow the king. “There's no one more capable in the entire world to rule us than the ever wise Zaleucus.” 

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