The Naked Truth

Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, tells the tale of two swindlers who pose as weavers to convince an emperor they can make him a magnificent new garment. This unique garment would be visible only to those with certain intellectual enlightenment. By appealing to the emperor’s ego, they are hired.

As the swindlers pretend to weave, court officials and the emperor can see that the looms are devoid of cloth, but not wanting to be thought unenlightened, they continue to act as if the two “weavers” are making a beautiful set of garments. When they declare they are finished, these posers pretend to dress the king, and he proceeds to march through the city thinking he is in fine new clothes. The townsfolk, not wanting to be considered ignorant, ooh and ahh over his latest fashion choice.

Finally, a child ends the charade by calling out what he plainly sees: the emperor is totally naked.

Do you ever feel like you are in a modern-day version of this tale? I often think of this story when confronted with some of the issues of our day. Whether it be social, political, medical, or the many other controversial subjects that come up in daily life, I pause to consider, am I like the people in Andersen’s tale, a victim of some kind of tomfoolery? What is the real truth here? God’s Word leads me to Matthew 21:15-16:

When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children shouting in the temple complex, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus told them. “Have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of children and nursing infants?” (HCSB)

The religious leaders were fully aware of what Jesus had done; his triumphal entry, the cleansing of the temple, the miracles—yet intellectual pride and arrogance kept them from seeing the truth of who He was. Not so with the children, who praised Him as the Son of David. Just as in Andersen’s tale, the truth was revealed—out of the mouths of babes.

What is the moral of this story and the truth presented in Matthew 21?

Don’t let intellectual pride keep you from seeing the truth presented in God’s Word. Test worldly philosophy against the Scriptures, for that is where absolute truth is found. Be like the child who sees things as they really are, unafraid of what others think. Like the townsfolk in The Emperor’s New Clothes, perhaps the scales will fall from the eyes of those who hear.

Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long. (Psalm 25:4–5, HCSB)

Shirley Ralston (MACE, 2008) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. She is a writer, teacher, and pastor’s research team member at Houston’s First Baptist Church. She is also a founding member of the HFBC Missionary Care Team. Shirley and her husband, Jeff, reside in Houston after several years living in the Middle East and the South Pacific.