The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

April 9, 2009

Jacob’s “Dia”

I wrote this story for our Good Friday service this year. I have written a children's story for Christmas Day and Good Friday for many years. It is hard to know if they connect with the children, but it seems a worthwhile effort. nb: this post violates my recent resolution to have shorter posts.

since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God
through (dia) our Lord Jesus Christ
(Romans 5:1)

Ever since any one could remember, Jacob had carried a blanket with him everywhere he went. When he was first beginning to talk Jacob named his blanket “Dia.” No one knew how Jacob came up with this strange name; but everybody knew Jacob could not be separated from his precious “Dia.”

Now, Jacob was six years old and his “Dia” was not so beautiful anymore; it was tattered and threadbare. But Jacob still loved his “Dia.” Recently the other children had begun to laugh at Jacob for always carrying his “Dia” everywhere he went. They called him “baby Dia” and other names that made Jacob feel hurt and sad.

Jacob tried to hide his “Dia” when the other children were around. He would tuck it under his tunic and pretend he didn’t have it. But it was too big to hide. A corner would stick out somewhere and the children would notice and make fun of Jacob. Sometimes they pretended they were going to take his blanket away from him and Jacob became really frightened. Jacob knew he should throw it away but he just could not give up his “Dia.”

When Jacob had his “Dia,” he felt calm and safe. When he was lonely, Jacob would rub his “Dia” and feel better. At night Jacob would smell his “Dia,” and it helped him go to sleep. No matter how upset he might be, when Jacob had his “Dia” he felt more peaceful.

Jacob lived a long time ago in a busy city named Jerusalem. Jacob liked the name of his City because it means “city of peace.” But Jerusalem was not always a peaceful place.

One day Jacob noticed that the streets of Jerusalem were filled with noisy angry people. They lined the main street leading out of the city. They were shouting and throwing things into the street.

Jacob pushed through the crowd, clutching his “Dia.” When he finally got to the front of the crowd Jacob looked down the long empty street. He saw soldiers marching and behind them one man all alone. The man was dragging a heavy wooden cross over his shoulder. Every few steps he would fall. No one helped him up; they just kicked him and cursed at him. Jacob wondered what terrible thing this man must have done to deserve such treatment.

The angry voices of the crowd were terrifying. They shouted, “Jesus you’re so great, why don’t you save yourself?” Some of the people laughed and made fun of this man. They said, “Jesus where is your great God now? Why don’t you get him to help you carry your cross?”

As Jacob watched the man got closer and closer. Finally, the soldiers passed Jacob. Then Jesus came slowly dragging his cross and stopped where Jacob stood. Jesus fell again. He was crushed under the weight of his cross. He lay on the hard cobblestones at Jacob’s feet. Jesus’ cheek was crushed against the stones. Jacob did not want to look. But something made him crouch down by Jesus’ head.

Jesus’ face was covered in blood from a crown of thorns pushed down onto his forehead. His back was bleeding from the beating by the soldiers. His knees and elbows were skinned. But, it was the man’s eyes that held Jacob’s attention. Jacob looked deep into those eyes. Even though the man was suffering so terribly, his eyes seemed filled with tenderness and love.

Jacob paused. Then Jacob reached out with his right hand holding his “Dia” and gently wiped Jesus’ forehead. It seemed to be the only thing he could do to try to ease the pain. Finally, the soldiers yanked Jesus to his feet. Jesus struggled up under the weight of his cross. He put one foot in front of the other and stumbled nearly falling again. Jacob wanted to help, but what could he do?

Then just as Jesus started to move, Jacob stepped forward and placed his “Dia” in Jesus’ hand. He hoped it might bring Jesus some comfort and peace.

Jacob watched as Jesus staggered down the road. He was still stumbling. But now, from Jesus’ right hand dangled a blood spattered piece of blue blanket. Jacob watched as Jesus and Jacob’s “Dia” disappeared around the corner. Then Jacob turned away from the street and began to walk home.

Suddenly, Jacob realized what he had done. His precious “Dia” was gone. Jacob knew he would never again feel its soft warm comfort. But then Jacob remembered Jesus’eyes. And Jacob knew that all the peace and comfort he had ever felt through his “Dia” had come to him through those eyes. There was something much stronger and more real than an old blue blanket and it was living deep in his heart. Jacob knew that the love in Jesus’ eyes was more real than any blue blanket. And Jacob knew that this love would never go away and would always make him strong and full of peace.

Many years later, when Jacob was grown up he heard a man named Paul teaching in the city square. Paul was speaking about the man named Jesus in a language Jacob did not understand. As he listened, Jacob recognized one word. Over and over Paul used the word, “dia.” When Jacob asked a man in the crowd what language Paul was speaking, he was told, it was Greek. Jacob asked, “What is Paul saying about ‘dia’?” The man said, “That is a Greek word, it means ‘through.’ Paul is saying that through Jesus we can find peace and strength.”

Jacob remembered how so many years ago he had thought that peace and strength came through an old blue blanket. But then he had seen Jesus and knew that peace and strength had come into his heart, not through a blanket, but through this person Jesus. Jacob felt sad that so many people were searching for peace through all kinds of things that could never bring peace. And Jacob was thankful he had found peace through Jesus. Jacob was thankful that this peace through Jesus lived in his heart and nothing could take it away.

© Christopher Page 2009

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