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A king visited a slave ship, and there was a slave galley where they chain men to the oars and they row and a man beats the drum and another man has a lash to make them row. And they would take the prisoners of the state and put them to use, pulling on the oars.

The king visited one of these slave ships, went below the decks, and began to talk to those who were chained to the oars. And he asked one man, "Why are you here?"

"Oh," he said, "Sire, I don’t know why I’m here. I was in a crowd when a crime was committed and when they arrested everybody, they got me and I’m innocent!"

He asked another, and said, "Why are you here?"

"Oh, sire, noble king, I have enemies who have lied about me, but I’m not really guilty, I’m the victim of false witnesses who have lied about me."

And the king went through and each one of them had some reason why he was innocent and should not be there, till he came to one man, who said, "Sire, I’m here because I deserve to be here. I’ve sinned. I’m guilty, I’m receiving the just recompense for my sin. I’ve sinned against my God, I’ve sinned against my king and now I’m paying the penalty for my sin."

When the king heard that he stepped back and he said, "You rascal, you scum, what are you doing here among so many honest men. Guards, release him and get him out of here."

Not until we admit our sin are we going to know the mercy and the forgiveness of the king.

(From a sermon by Jerry Shirley, God vs. Humanity, 3/17/2011)

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