Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Difference between Heaven and Hell (on earth)

The Holy Man and the Lord

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day
and said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like."
The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and
the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round

In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled
delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting
round the table were thin and sickly.

They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with
very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it
possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but
because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the
spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their
misery and suffering.

The Lord said, "You have seen Hell."

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was
exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with
the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water.

The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons,
but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, "I don't understand." "It is simple" said the Lord,
"it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves."


David Johnson said...

I love that. It reminds me of the sorts of things that Americans think we've been blessed with, and then of the things that Jesus actually called "blessed."

The New Testament describes money consistently in terms of "peril." I wonder how much danger I and those I care about are in.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Very interesting. I think I like Dante better though.

Jonathan said...

A very appropriate story for World Communion Sunday, since we are sharing this meal with Christians all the way around the world, thus using very long spoons.

Matt said...

I've heard this parable before a number of times, and it's all over the Internet, but one thing I've never been able to uncover is its origins. I'm curious about this.

The parable itself, of course, is straightforwardly brilliant.

Ben Witherington said...

Don't know where it came from ultimately. I do know I got it from my momma :)

Terry Hamblin said...

My son tells me he heard it in a school assembly 20 years ago, but it was new to me.

Celucien L. Joseph said...

Dr. Witherington,

Congratulations on the new doctoral program in Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. I was wondering if one has the option to emphasize strictly on the new Testament Studies.

I could not find your personal email. I'm very interested in working with you.


Celucien Joseph

Ben Witherington said...

Yes of course you can concentrate on NT. You will need to contact to start the application process.


Ben W.

Celucien L. Joseph said...

Dr. Witherington,

I emailed Dr. Arnold and also applied online 10 minutes ago.

I look forward to conversing with you in the future.


Celucien Joseph

Benjamin Sternke said...

The parable on heaven and hell reminds me of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. It's a fascinating, unconventional look at a subject we think we know a lot about ;).

Sarah Misselbrook said...

Thank you for highlighting this. It has been the inspiration behind a great deal of my artwork. Have a look and let me know what you think. - look under 'photographic' section and "Misplaced" and "Takers".