There was a rich man who lived long ago in Manchester, England. He owned his own land and slaves and had many concubines, in addition to his beautiful wife and three gorgeous daughters.
They lived the life of the nobles and enjoyed great health and prosperity. As a doctor, he earned a lot from his medical practice, and charged huge sums for treatments, because everyone knew he was the best in town. He often turned away poor people who came to him desperate, but didn't have enough to pay or travel elsewhere for treatment. Rumour had it that many were buried in a land across from him...
However, one day, the doctor fell ill. He didn't know how to treat this particular ailment that consumed all his energy, emotional as well as physical. Everything he tried, he couldn't restore his health and he became unable to practice his trade. He lost his business. Then he lost his wife, who took his beautiful daughters from him and fled with his wealth, when she learnt that he had been cheating on his taxes and owed a massive sum to the State.
His concubines deserted him, and his slaves and land were sold off to pay off his debt. He was alone, broken and destitute...and on the verge of death!
Desperately, he sought for help from other doctors. But those who did not laugh him to scorn had to admit that they too did not have a cure. They told him of one great Physician who practiced in London.
According to rumour, his charges were astronomical! They were so extreme that many rich who went to him had to sell off everything for his miracle solutions. But his prices were different for everyone, so they told him that he'd have to go to the Physician himself to enquire.
The doctor was afraid. He knew how harsh he had been to others who came to him for aid. He knew that if he was turned away, it would be all he deserved! He feared that the great Physician would also laugh him to scorn, because his boasting had spread far and wide... Oh, how proud he had been. How arrogantly wicked and selfish! He couldn't bring himself to go to the Physician, so he stayed in Manchester, begging on the streets for change.
Death drew ever closer, and he resigned himself to it. Then he heard the clang of a pound in his begging bowl and looked up. The person smiled at him before they started to walk away. In that instant, he recognised the man.
It had been one of his neighbours who ran a farm, but had fallen ill. However, when this neighbour came to him desperate for treatment, he had turned him away for not having enough to pay. The doctor stared in unbelief as the farmer was obviously well and restored.
"Carlton!" he called out.
The farmer stopped and turned around to look at the beggar, wondering how he knew his name.
As if to answer the unspoken question, the beggar replied, "Briggs! It's me Dr Briggs."
Instantly, the farmer recognised him and went to his side. He enquired as to what had humbled Dr Briggs, and was sad when he learnt his story. He told his own story about how he also went to the great Physician, who had been merciful to him, and treated him without charge. He encouraged the doctor to go and ask, maybe the Physician would help him too. He added to his pound enough money for Dr Briggs to make the trip to London.
Dr Briggs marveled at the farmer, who had been so kind, when he had been so horrible to him. He thought to himself, that he had nothing to lose. He would go to the Physician and beg for mercy.
So he made the hard and long trip to London, hanging to life only with hope of relief... He was shown the great Physician's humble practice in East London and, for a moment, pride gripped his heart. He thought, "what could someone like this have to offer me?" But he repented of his thought. From nowhere, he uttered, "God, please forgive me".
That was so strange to him, as he had never professed belief in God before. With renewed hope, he knocked on the door.
The Physician came to the door and said, "Briggs, welcome. I've been expecting you!"
Stunned by this grace, Briggs walked in to the Physician's practice a humble man. The Physician didn't laugh him to scorn, as he had feared. And the price he requested was no burden to pay, as he had been led to believe. However, sadly, he knew that the old Briggs could not have paid the price. The Physician's request was simple:
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