A Story of Grace and Truth: a fictional story from the life of Jesus by RuthAnn Rini

Jesus, (Yeshua, in Hebrew), as a boy of thirteen, had begun roaming the countryside in search of adventure.  He was a natural with animals and he had come upon a female puppy abandoned by her pack in a cave.  The puppy was barely alive, but Yeshua nurtured her back to life and gave the credit to God by naming her Chesed, the Hebrew word for God’s lovingkindness, His grace.

In English, we would pronounce her name as Grace.  But to Yeshua she was Chesed.  Chesed was a sweet-natured dog who continually sought ways to help other people and smooth over tension or sadness.  She had an instinct for knowing when to place her head on the lap of someone sad or break the tension of an angry moment by chasing her tail or pretending she saw a lizard or mouse at a crack in the wall.  She was flexible in her routine, always willing to either go for a walk or lie snuggled beside the fire.  She responded to whatever was needed.  She adapted her own wants and needs to those around her, especially Yeshua, whom she adored from the moment he found her, alone and afraid in the cave where she had been abandoned.  Her eyes followed him everywhere and she was never more than a few feet from him whenever possible.  She often lay for hours at his feet as he read the ancient scriptures with one of the rabbis in the village or lay by his side as he spent a day in the wide open fields dreaming of the future and what it might hold for him when he became older.

Chesed was soft and approachable in every way.  Even her voice was gentle, not harsh and strident like the other dogs with the shepherds around the village where Yeshua and his family lived.  She seemed to flow with the most boisterous antics of her 13-year old savior, effortlessly gliding behind or in front of him as he ran or walked from place to place in the joy of a healthy boy with the world before him.  Her eyes were full of love and devotion and took in every detail of the life that went on around her.  Her keen mind was constantly analyzing how best to provide either friendship or boundary for everyone who interacted with Yeshua every day.  For the rude and obnoxious boys of the village who thought Yeshua too much of a mama’s boy and too intent on learning, she situated herself quietly and firmly in front of Yeshua’s feet, a solid barrier between their comments and her beloved guardian.  For those whom Yeshua loved, she often extended herself from Yeshua’s feet to their feet, providing a bridge between their eager warm banter and serious conversations about the complicated world into which they were growing.

Yeshua’s life became one that revolved around Chesed.  He learned to look to her in every situation, reading her expressions and body language for indications of suspicion or acceptance.  He often relaxed when she was relaxed and paid close attention when she was most alert and watchful.  He knew he was always seen by her watchful eyes and he came to depend on her presence in every situation and interaction.  His mother, Mary, noticed the strong bond Yeshua had with Chesed, and gently inquired whether this was a wise relationship in his life.  She knew most dogs in their culture had very short lives.  She worried that Yeshua would be devastated if Chesed suddenly died from an illness or accident or was killed by some other animal while out in the mountains or desert with him.

Yeshua was troubled by the conversation, but he was simply helpless about the affection he felt for his beloved dog.  He could no more stop the feelings he had for her than stop the love he felt for God Himself.  Of course, his love for God was something that consumed every cell in his body and would not compare to what He felt for Chesed.  But in the deepest places in his heart, he felt that his great God had somehow meant for he and Chesed to be together and had orchestrated events so that Yeshua would find this amazingly gentle and strong child of the wild and link their lives so that each would be nurtured and protected by the other.  However long they were meant to be together was something known to God, and the young Yeshua simply resolved his feelings of fear at losing her by reminding himself that the mighty God knew when Chesed would be taken in death and would be there to comfort him when the moment came.  Like David centuries earlier, Yeshua would run to the Rock that was higher than he and let that mighty fortress comfort and shield him from all the pain and sadness of loss.

The years came and went, and suddenly, Chesed began showing her age in little ways that abruptly became clear to Yeshua from time to time.  His heart responded with sadness whenever these moments came, but he was also growing into a more mature young man, and had already seen the cruelty and loss of the ever changing world, and was more accepting of change and separation.  Chesed, too, seemed to flex and accommodate time, aging so naturally that few noticed her stiffening joints and her slightly diminished energy.

One night, at the age of eight, almost against her will, Chesed felt strangely drawn out into the desert, in spite of leaving Yeshua alone.  Her instincts were like a magnet, helplessly pulling her toward a scent and sound that only the depths of her soul recognized.  She went far into the wilderness around Nazareth, and as she crested a sharp ridge, found whom she was seeking.  A long-legged, deep-chested, male dog stood looking at her from several yards away and began slowly wagging his tail as he saw her approaching.  Stiff-legged, tail up, and alert, he sniffed her curiously and eagerly, and she who had always been extremely aloof toward all the male dogs of the village, was surprised by her own longing to run and romp with the much bigger and more boisterous male.  Suddenly, they began to race and leap, stopping intermittently to touch noses and lick faces.  Chesed’s joints felt new again, her blood coursed with a new vibrancy, and she felt as alive as she had when she was a younger dog, dodging the playful slaps of Yeshua as he chased her around their small yard.

Hours later, Chesed returned to Yeshua and the family, exhausted and nervous about whether Yeshua had been safe during her absence.  Relieved, she found him curled tightly in a ball on his pallet, seemingly oblivious to her unexpected nocturnal wandering. She stretched out beside the long lean form of her savior and friend and fell into a deep sleep.

A few weeks later, it became evident to everyone that her nocturnal rendezvous had caused her to become an expectant mother.  Yeshua was amazed because he had never known Chesed to be interested in any dogs around the village, though they had often invited her to come with them during the mating seasons.  Chesed had never wanted to leave Yeshua’s side and he had been grateful that she was so loyal and wasn’t longing to have a family of her own.  But there was no doubt that the big male dog who had called her out to the desert so many weeks ago had been an unusually strong attractor.  Yeshua had seen the lone traveler when he had ventured into the desert on his wanderings during the day and had been told by shepherds that the big male was called Melek among them, the Hebrew word for king or ruler.  He ruled the hills and valleys of the nearby desert region, but no one had ever been able to get close to him.  He rarely intruded on the flocks, instead preferring to hunt other smaller wild game.  But for some reason he had sought out Chesed as a mate and had been able to lure her away from Yeshua’s side for one night.  Only a king could have conquered the fierce loyalty of Chesed temporarily and Yeshua pondered the big male’s aloof bearing and sovereignty over the territory he had claimed as his own.  Anxiously, Yeshua and his brothers and sisters awaited the arrival of Chesed’s puppies.

Finally, one night Yeshua was awakened to Chesed’s burrowing in her bed, softly panting and moaning as she went into labor.  Yeshua watched in fascination as his beloved Chesed gave birth to a wiggling mass of wet fur.  She was a wonderful mother, caring for the helpless pup expertly as it came into the world, and knowing by instinct how to care for her new baby.  He was a very large puppy, a male, and was strikingly marked in black and white like Melek, his father.  Having only one puppy was perhaps due to Chesed’s age.  But he was robust and noisy, seeming to make up for the absence of siblings by noise and energy and constant movement.  Yeshua named him Emet, the Hebrew word for truth.

Yeshua thought the word suited the large pup because from the beginning he had tried to figure out the right and wrong way of doing things.  He was constantly looking for the best way to get out of the nesting area that had been set up for he and his gentle mother.  Once he understood how to do something or the best route to take, he unerringly repeated it over and over.  He became a dog that was quickly set in his ways, definitely not wanting to waste his time with many routes, but simply going from one destination to another in the shortest and most direct way possible.  While Chesed was constantly mild and flexible in the home routine, adapting easily to unexpected visitors or trips to the village, Emet craved routine and stability.  He did not like to be surprised and protested loudly when forced to veer off a known path.

At the same time, though, Yeshua saw things in Emet that were quiet assets to their relationship, especially since Yeshua had begun taking over the household tasks that belonged to the man of the family.  Joseph, older than Mary when Yeshua was born, was growing frail and less energetic now, and would soon sleep with his fathers in the family tombs.  Mary was proud of the way Yeshua stepped into the new role of leadership.  In the same way, Emet began stepping into the new role of friend and companion of Yeshua.  More and more frequently, Chesed was content to sleep beside Joseph, in part because she was aging, but also because she sensed Joseph’s need for a comforting presence that made no demands and was unconditionally loyal.  Like any pack hierarchy, the younger, stronger members left the den more often and the older, more fragile members were taken care of when the others returned.  Chesed felt content to fulfill this instinctual place and was glad to see how easily Emet accompanied Yeshua as a strong and eager protector on his ever further reaching travels into the countryside.

Yeshua had been thirteen when he had found Chesed, and she had had her experience with motherhood when she was eight.  When the time came for Chesed to pass away, Yeshua had just turned twenty-five, and Emet had been sharing his journeys and his adult life for four years.  Though Jesus was heart-broken when he felt that Chesed’s time was near, he rejoiced in the fact that she had been able to live a long and accident-free life, another indication that God was especially watching over her as he watched over Yeshua.  Chesed and Yeshua had seen Joseph pass naturally and peacefully just two years previously, and Yeshua was extremely grateful for the fact that as he was busily caring for all the things Joseph had always done, Chesed was keeping Joseph company.  Joseph himself had seemed to feel Yeshua’s own spirit with him when Chesed was nearby, and gratefully caressed her graying head and muzzle many times as he lay by the fire or sat in the sun outside their small house.

Now, it was Chesed’s time, and Emet was the one who stayed near her, though Yeshua stopped as often as possible and spoke gently to this beloved dog who had showed him a type of unconditional love that would be in his heart forever.  He wept when he realized she would be gone soon, and slept fitfully the night she passed away.  In the morning, upon awakening, he already felt her absence and looked over to Emet who sat mournfully by her side.  Yeshua went to her and stroked her silky side for the last time, thanking the mighty God of Israel for this wonderful dog who had seen him through the tumultuous years of becoming a man, and who had taught him an eternal lesson about the softness and gentleness of accepting anyone and everyone while always remaining alert to danger.

Yeshua found a small cave in the wilderness where he had first found Chesed, and placed her body gently and reverently within its depths, covering over the entrance with dozens of strong boulders and dirt to keep out curious predators. For a long time, he and Emet sat near the cave, Yeshua praying earnestly to Yahweh to comfort him in this time of deep sadness, and Emet lying with head on paws, sad for his own loss, but also deeply grieved in his spirit for Yeshua’s pain.  Hours later, they made their way back home.  For months afterwards, Emet would suddenly turn up missing, and when Yeshua would seek him out, he would inevitably find the young dog curled tightly before the cave, warning any approaching wildlife off with a deep-throated growl.

Yeshua was now 25 years old, and had grown into a lanky young man with wiry muscles that were surprisingly strong and adept at accomplishing the many carpentry tasks he did throughout the day.  Emet, too, had grown into a strong and muscular dog, much bigger than Chesed had been, and extremely fast and agile over any and all terrain.  Once his mourning for Chesed was over, there was never a moment when Emet was not near Yeshua, and people everywhere began realizing that the bond they shared was something that was very unusual.  Over the next five years, Yeshua never tired of sitting with Emet on a hillside, stroking the sleek black and white fur while he prayed or meditated, and he realized sometimes with a shock that if anything ever happened to himself or Emet, the pain would be something unbearable for the one who was left.

As the years moved forward, Yeshua began sensing a deeper and more frequent call by the mighty God of Israel to lonely and desolate places where he heard the unmistakable voice of Yahweh.  Of course, Yeshua knew the stories that had been told since the time of his conception, his mother Mary often repeating the events, feelings, and supernatural signs that had accompanied his birth and young childhood.  She told him of what the angel Gabriel had said to her and to Joseph, about the truth of her virginity, and about the special star that had led the shepherds to worship him on the night he was born.  He thrilled to hear of the visit by Eastern visitors when he was a tiny boy, and of how an angel had warned his parents to flee into Egypt when there was a danger of Herod killing him due to his fear of losing the throne.  Besides all this, there was the story of his cousin, John the Baptist, who was an only child born to his aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Zechariah under amazing supernatural circumstances as well as Yeshua’s own memory of being strangely compelled to sit down with the rabbis in Jerusalem during one of his family’s pilgrimages there when he was twelve.

So all during his childhood and young adulthood, Yeshua had been aware of these stories and events, and yet, he always felt so normal– of being like everyone else.  He had many friends and quite a few enemies as he grew up; friends because he was always drawn toward companions who were shy, or shunned by others, enemies because many children had heard the stories of his birth and followed their parents’ example of considering him a child without a true father.  To many in the village, Joseph was either a liar who would not own up to Mary’s infidelity, or an extremely soft-hearted fool who believed the story she had told about how she became pregnant.  In either case, the family was ridiculed both publicly and privately, and Yeshua had learned early to cling only to the heartfelt stories Mary had told him, ignoring the taunts and remarks of others, both children and adults.

But now, at 25, and with Joseph and Chesed gone, Yeshua felt himself growing into a new maturity and identity.  Perhaps it was brought on by these two enormous losses, perhaps it was inevitable even without them, but Yeshua felt that God was calling him deeper and more intimately than ever before.  He felt compelled to explore every inch of the towns and villages around him, and often spent days away from home now that his brothers were old enough to take over many of his duties, and his sisters were there to help Mary with her chores.  He felt a new freedom in being able to follow this adventurous spirit and there was no better companion for his wanderings than Emet.  Though the young dog had always been a dog who loved routine, still he willingly accompanied Yeshua on every journey. Yeshua was preparing for a phase of life that would require extensive knowledge, not only of the terrain, but of the people and leaders who inhabited the towns and villages.

Yeshua became so well-known as a traveler that he had his choice of where to stay in almost any place, whether isolated in a green countryside or nestled in the thousands of houses that made up the larger cities.  Everywhere he went, Yeshua was a welcome and giving guest, with his gentle demeanor and quiet helpful ways, countless people, both rich and poor looked forward to his presence at their table and eagerly made accommodation for him to spend the night.  Even Emet was welcomed, out of respect for Yeshua only, because dogs were normally with shepherds or roaming the town for scraps.  It was quite uncommon to treat one with the familiarity with which Yeshua treated Emet.

For five years, Yeshua and Emet had the kind of life that was constantly restless and full of variety.  Though Yeshua felt he was in some sort of preparation, he often wondered when it would be revealed to him the mission that he knew was coming.  In prayer, Yeshua felt comforted and somewhat peaceful, and learned, like David, to cast all his anxiety and curiosity at the feet of the mighty God of Israel, but walking the hundreds of paths and stopping to visit so many villagers often gave Yeshua time to ponder what his greater mission in life was to be.

He often longed for what he saw in Emet, who faithfully sought out the path before them and had a phenomenal memory for the straightest and most level roads between destinations.  Emet already knew his mission in life and lived joyfully in the moment, at once serious about being a sentry for Yeshua, but easily breaking into a puppyish gallop whenever he was overtaken by the incredible joy of being strong and alive and completely free. Yeshua admired Emet’s incredible focus.  Emet simply kept Yeshua always before him, ready to do whatever he was bidden, ready to follow wherever Yeshua turned, and ready to lay down his life for his friend without hesitation.  Yeshua felt that just as he learned invaluable lessons from his life with Chesed, he was also to learn lessons from this fierce and loyal protector whose name was Truth.

As Emet aged over the next five years, Yeshua began seeing signs of the stalwart dog behaving more like Chesed.  There was a certain gracefulness that began overtaking the exuberant dog that had not been present in his younger years.  Where before, he had objected vocally to any change in route or a sudden visit with people on the path, now he seemed ready and able to take such changes in stride.  Where before he had always insisted on leading Yeshua from place to place, now he was sometimes content to follow behind or walk beside the young man, trusting Yeshua to protect them both if the need arose.  Yeshua noticed the change, and was glad to see some of Chesed’s characteristics coming out in her loud and incorrigible child, but he also felt a certain sadness, knowing his friend was aging and realizing that he would have to say goodbye at some point, just as he had with Chesed.

When Yeshua turned thirty, his questions and curiosity about his childhood had finally been answered.  He and Emet had one day traveled to a desolate and abandoned group of houses where the very air felt thin and devoid of any human presence.  Yeshua felt compelled to pray and sat for a long while near one of the houses, a strange brooding spirit becoming noticeable to his ever faithful dog.  Emet, not understanding the foreboding, lay down with a sigh near Yeshua, feeling within himself that this was a time to wait out his master rather than insist on continuing their travels with a thunderous bark as he usually did.

After a long time, Yeshua leapt to his feet with a shout!  It startled Emet so much that he jumped up sideways, crashing into an abandoned pile of pottery and causing such a crash and jangle that Yeshua laughed out loud.  Emet had never seen his master so full of joy, excitement, peace and purpose.  The determination in Yeshua was something Emet could almost smell and taste.  He looked on with wondering eyes as Yeshua stood trembling with hands stretched out, singing and praising God.  In his voice was a new tone, one of depth and intimacy, like a child speaking excitedly and without inhibition to a parent.  Emet rejoiced in his master’s happiness, but also felt uneasy at the newness of attitude.  He wondered what to expect next.  Suddenly, Yeshua sensed the big dog’s confusion, and kneeling beside him, embraced him firmly and with a full heart, reassuring him that everything was perfect.  Yeshua felt complete and focused for the first time in the last several years, and began a ministry among the villagers and townspeople that was talked about daily throughout Israel.

Emet was now nine years old, and had begun to feel some lessening of strength and some pain in his legs and body.  He often awoke stiff and sore in the morning and required a long stretch and the early sun to make him feel like himself again.  Like all dogs, he never wanted to show any weakness to other pack members and was always eager and ready to go when Yeshua called.  But, also like all dogs, he had a sense of coming toward the end of a journey and hoped that when it was time to lie down like Chesed, Yeshua would not be full of sadness as he remembered Yeshua feeling when Chesed passed.

Their travels were very different during the next three years.  Yeshua had talked to many people since his experience in the desolate village, and now more than a dozen people accompanied them on their journey between villages.  Emet learned to love these new companions, but he remained fiercely loyal and constantly focused on Yeshua alone.  Whenever Yeshua asked him to stay with these new and rough young men, Emet would consent with a low grumble and a forlorn look in Yeshua’s direction.  When Yeshua returned, Emet would utter a cry of joy and run speedily to Yeshua no matter how others might reprimand him or hold him back.  His loyalty and devotion became something the disciples of Yeshua came to admire, and Yeshua often told parables about Chesed and Emet that helped them understand God’s devotion to them.

Often, when Yeshua was feeling the most lonely and vulnerable, he would call Emet to him and they would climb to a high hillside to be alone with the God who Yeshua now knew was his actual father.  When he returned, he would sometimes call three of his disciples to come sit with him, and he would recount all the things he had heard and felt in the presence of the mighty Yahweh.  Emet would lie in the small circle of men and lay his head tenderly on Yeshua’s thigh, looking into the piercing eyes he adored and longing for a day when they could travel alone again every day as they used to.  Seeing their rabbi stroking the dog’s head and looking on him with love and compassion, the disciples were determined to protect and care for Yeshua’s dog with everything that was in them.  If the day ever came when Yeshua left them (and Yeshua had been inferring that this would inevitably happen), they were ready to care for Emet with the same love and tenderness that his master had shown him.

The last three years of Yeshua’s and Emet’s life together were very difficult at times.  There was much chaos, much tension, and much loneliness as Yeshua encountered people time after time who either demanded everything of him constantly or rejected him, causing Yeshua to disappear to a neighboring village where Emet and his disciples were his only solace.  Emet would often growl disapprovingly whenever someone spoke harshly to his beloved master, but Yeshua always gave Emet a stern look, making Emet remember to sit quietly like his mother, Chesed would have done.  Yeshua understood the old dog’s feelings, but he also knew that his life at that moment was a sure fulfillment of God’s plan for his life, and while it pained him to discipline the sensitive dog with a reproving look, he knew that love and gentleness must always overcome any evil.

In Yeshua’s thirty-third year, when Emet was twelve years old, the chaos among the crowds became more continual, and the tension among Yeshua and his followers was ever present.  Emet hated his feelings of foreboding; he grew more and more irritable as Yeshua and his disciples sat among the people of Jerusalem.  Emet did not like Jerusalem, the noise, the crowds, the constant movement.  Especially since it was more congested than ever due to the festivals and Passover for which the people were preparing.  Emet and Yeshua had been here two other times when the crowds and noises were the same, but this visit felt different.  Everywhere Emet went, his hackles involuntarily stood up and he constantly watched behind and ahead of Yeshua, sensing a danger that he had never felt in quite the same way before.

After a day of feeling the most oppressive anxiety that had ever come over him, sundown came, and Emet, Yeshua, and the disciples shared a long and peaceful meal in a room where Emet finally felt a lessening of fear.  He gratefully slept at the feet of Yeshua as they ate together, only rising once when he felt a dark energy enter one of the disciples as Yeshua spoke to him.  But that disciple soon left, taking the darkness with him, and afterwards, Emet enjoyed the deepest sleep he had had in months as the disciples and Yeshua spoke long into the night.

Suddenly, Yeshua was up and moving, and Emet groggily tried to rise and follow with his usual energy.  But sleep had caused his joints to stiffen and he cried out in pain as he attempted to follow Yeshua into the night.  Yeshua turned at Emet’s cry, looking down at him with love and mercy.  It was a look unlike any that Emet had seen, and he was startled as he realized it was a look of regret and separation; the same look Yeshua had given Chesed on the night she passed.  Emet’s heart broke as he read Yeshua’s body language.  Yeshua was resigned and in pain and Emet frantically looked up at him, trying to figure out how to comfort this beloved man he had known since he came into the world.  With a sigh, Yeshua stroked the broad graying head and told Emet to stay behind in the warmth of the upper room.  Emet protested, but Yeshua was adamant, pointing to the pallet on the floor where he had been lying and telling him firmly to wait there for his return.

Dejectedly, Emet returned to the pallet, his physical pain forgotten, as he watched Yeshua and the others depart.  He now knew the anguish that Chesed had felt at being left, and it took every ounce of his strength to stay behind in obedience to Yeshua’s command.  Mournfully he laid his head on his paws and resigned himself to wait as the door to the room closed firmly behind his master. He slept, but his night was filled with anguished dreams of Yeshua in danger and his inability to get to Yeshua’s side.  As morning came, Emet sat up and looked expectantly at the door, waiting with fear and anticipation for Yeshua’s return.  But hour after hour passed, and though there were loud and unsettling noises in the street below, no one came to liberate the faithful dog.  He smelled his master nearby at one point, and also recognized the scent of the other disciples, but the windows of the room were too high up, and he wasn’t able to find a way out.  He who had always known the best way in and out of any place was suddenly blocked from being able to be by his master’s side.  Emet’s heart was desperate, and he finally began howling loudly and mournfully as the noises in the street below receded into the distance.

In the midst of one of his howls, the door suddenly was opened, and Emet, in disbelief at this turn of events, stunned the man at the door as he streaked by, frantic to reach Yeshua’s side.  Emet raced out of the building and down the street, the scent of Yeshua strong in his nostrils, leading him on toward the outside of town.  In shock, Emet suddenly saw Yeshua, but for some reason he was covered in blood and was hanging far above Emet’s head, anchored to a cross.  Emet stared helplessly at the still form, little cries of anguish coming from his throat as he tried to understand why his master was so still and not speaking to him.  Suddenly, he felt strong arms around him and realized that one of Yeshua’s disciples was trying to drag him from the cross.  Emet resisted mightily, but then there came a weak and pain filled voice—the beloved voice that he would obey at all costs.  The voice told him to go with the disciple; weakly, the voice said, “Follow him, Emet”.  It was the command Yeshua had given Emet countless times during the last three years whenever things had become so chaotic that Yeshua had sent Emet out of the crowd to a safe place in which to wait with his followers until he returned.

Emet was compelled to obey, but looked back at Yeshua time after time until he was no longer in sight.  Surely his master did not require his defense, he was so still and unmoving.  But Emet’s spirit was horribly unsettled, struggling with whether to obey and follow or somehow make his way back to his master’s side and wait with him no matter what came.  The disciple who had taken charge of Emet brought him back to the building where they had met for their last supper, but as they approached, Emet was seized with dread at being locked up again away from Yeshua.  With sudden purpose, Emet turned and raced back down the street to the cross where he knew with clarity he belonged.  The disciple watched him go, knowing that Emet’s devotion was too great to hold back.

When Emet reached the cross, his master’s eyes briefly shone with love and amazement.  He gazed into Emet’s eyes and gave him the command that he was hoping for: “Stay here, boy, and wait with me.”  Emet, no longer unsettled or confused, lay down at the foot of the cross, ready to protect his master from anyone who came near.  Those surrounding the cross had watched the big black and white dog as he was taken away, and marveled that Yeshua with only a word had been able to make him follow the disciple.  Now, when the dog came charging back to lie faithfully at the foot of the cross, no one interfered with the grand devotion that they all felt as well.  They understood Emet’s loyalty and would not take this comforting presence from the suffering man on the cross.  Emet waited in watchful sadness until Yeshua uttered a last cry of anguish.  He knew, with the instincts of all living creatures, that his master’s life had passed from him.

Awhile later, a soldier approached someone on another cross nearby.  Emet shuddered as the soldier took a club and broke the legs of the person on the cross.  A few seconds later, the man died, and the soldier approached Yeshua.  Emet growled and would have lunged at the soldier, seeking to tear his arm off if he touched his master’s body, but a young burly man in the crowd grabbed Emet by the scruff and held him back as Emet gave protesting cries and yelps.  The soldier looked with disgust at the struggling old dog, then quickly thrust a spear into the unmoving side of Yeshua.  Blood and water poured out as the crowd and Emet looked on, and those who knew the sign of blood and water hung their heads, knowing that Yeshua had already passed into death.

When the soldier marched on to the next victim on the cross, the young man let Emet go, and he ran to the cross again, barking in distress.  But when he looked at Yeshua, the eyes were closed, and Emet knew, with the instincts of all living things, that there was no life in the body of this beloved master.  Whimpering miserably, Emet settled again at the foot of the cross, not stirring a muscle until two men came before sundown and took the body down.  Emet, at their approach, made no protest, for he knew they were not coming to harm Yeshua.  He looked on mournfully as they took Yeshua’s body from the cross and tenderly wrapped and anointed it for burial.  He walked behind them with stiff and dejected steps as they went to a tomb and placed Yeshua within it.  When they left, Emet stayed behind, making a bed for himself in some grass nearby.  The only solace he wanted was to be near the body of Yeshua.  The last words Yeshua had spoken to him had been “Wait.”  Wait is what he would do.

Some hours later, he heard the marching of feet and gave a low growl as soldiers came into sight and began preparing to guard the tomb.  This time, rather than showing himself, Emet stayed hidden, preferring to watch what would happen.  The soldiers took up their stations outside the tomb, and Emet kept his place, out of sight in the undergrowth nearby, knowing only to wait and watch.

Emet had fallen into a fitful and uneasy sleep when abruptly there was a blinding flash of light and the stone covering the tomb was forcefully thrust aside.  Emet let out a startled yelp, and cowered in fear as he saw two huge white figures near the tomb.  He went completely silent and trembling, expecting someone to find him and take him away again.  But as he lay there, watching fearfully toward the soldiers, who appeared to be still and unmoving, he suddenly felt a familiar touch.  In absolute joy, he realized with a jolt that it was Yeshua’s hand that was on his head.  Quivering with excitement, he looked up into the eyes of his master and began showing his love and excitement with every fiber of his being.  He yelped, he barked, he chortled, he wriggled and squirmed, leaping up into Yeshua’s arms, racing in circles around his feet, and finally collapsing in joyful bliss at his feet as Yeshua laughed and tried to caress him.  Yeshua’s eyes were full of tears as he stroked his friend’s fur, saying over and over again, “Well done, thou good and faithful friend!”

Emet’s heart was so full and his spirit was so joyous that he ran all the way down the path in front of Yeshua as they walked back toward town.  They were coming near to the city walls when unexpectedly Yeshua began taking another path, up to a high hill where they had often spent the night while Yeshua prayed to his mighty Father.  Emet bounded gleefully up the hillside, feeling a youth and vibrancy he had not experienced for a very long time.  When they reached the top, Yeshua knelt down and cradled Emet’s head in his large calloused hands and looked lovingly into the devoted eyes.  He laughed and asked Emet if he wanted to take a walk together.  Emet ran joyfully ahead as they walked all over the hillside, seeing again every nook and cranny that were familiar to them and had offered them shelter from storm and sun. It was like the old days, of just a young man and his dog taking a journey together, and they both rejoiced in their reunion, putting aside the harsh events of their separation.  At last, after hours of walking, Yeshua stopped and sat on the hillside and looked out over the valley before him.

Emet realized that is was sunrise again and he suddenly felt his body with all the familiar aches and pains of his years.  Panting, he went to Yeshua’s side and lay down with relief at his feet.  Yeshua looked down at him with love, knowing that his friend’s life was ready to be taken from the worldly kingdom to the heavenly one.  Now that Yeshua knew he had been sent from God and was returning to God, he had no sadness when he told Emet to “Follow” the figure in white down the path to the opened door that was inviting him in.  Emet looked into Yeshua’s eyes a last time as his spirit left his body and all the pain and sadness of the earthly life left him for the last time.

He felt young and exuberant and full of life again!  He knew without a doubt that Yeshua would soon come down the path and through the door that was before him; he had only to wait and they would be reunited again, never to be separated.  With his heart full of expectation and joy, Emet raced down the path toward Chesed and the mighty Father waiting with outstretched arms.

Yeshua tenderly carried the body to Chesed’s little tomb and moved the boulders aside.  He wrapped the beloved body with a section of his own burial cloth and placed it in the depths, far back in the darkness beyond the searching of other animals.  Then he placed the boulders back at the entrance and packed it firmly with dirt and sand.  He prayed a long and heartfelt prayer of thanks for the life they would soon have together, and slowly turned away and headed back down the mountain toward the other joyful reunions that awaited him.

Later, when it was written of Yeshua “full of grace and truth” by the disciple who had tried to take Emet away from the cross, many remembered Chesed and Emet, the faithful friends and teachers of Yeshua.

The Message:

Just as Jesus knew and experienced grace and truth in the dogs from his earthly life, so should we learn from grace and truth how to minister to others.  Chesed was flexible, soft-spoken, tender-hearted, and offered comfort and a release of tension.  She had a gentle spirit and was content to be wherever needed and offer herself to anyone and everyone while constantly remaining watchful and faithful.

Can we be like Chesed too?  Can we learn to be flexible and gentle while remaining faithful and focused on Jesus?  Can we offer comfort where needed and adapt our own needs and wants to what others need and want?  Whenever we are faced with a situation in which we must respond, ask, “Should I be like Chesed in this situation?”  Should I adapt, flex, stay behind to be a comfort, be a gentle barrier rather than a harsh one, but never let my devotion to Jesus wane?”

Or does a situation call for truth?  Like Emet, are there situations where we need to know right from wrong?  Is there a sure and certain path that offers that most direct and level path to our destination?  Emet was unwavering in his devotion to what was right and stable and in his devotion to Jesus.  He was always ready to defend and lay down his life for Jesus.  Are you ready to lay down your life for the truth?

Then, there is the combination of Chesed and Emet, grace and truth.  As Emet grew older, he took on some of Chesed’s characteristics.  His black and white fur grayed as he aged.  So also with us, sometimes we need a graying of our literal devotion to truth.  Sometimes we need the characteristics of grace mixed in with our truth in order to make the best companions for Jesus and his ministry.  We remain committed to truth but we open ourselves to others and we obey Jesus when he tells us to wait or to follow.  We are willing to walk behind the master or go before him as the situation requires.  We trust the savior to defend and protect us just as we are willing to defend and protect him.

Just as Chesed and Emet will live eternally in the heavenly kingdom and in the heart of Jesus, who was “full of grace and truth”, so should grace and truth live eternally with us.  Always available to us according to the response needed.  One does not replace the other, but both are alive and well and ready to be of service to anyone who needs them and who loves their master, Jesus.

Whenever you are in a difficult or confusing situation, remember the presence and availability of grace and truth.  Remember that above all, they were devoted and faithful to Jesus but they each had different qualities that helped Jesus in different situations.  When Jesus was immature and learning, there was Chesed, Grace, leading him on a path of gentleness and love toward others.  When Jesus was mature and able to have truth as a companion, Emet, or Truth was black and white when they began their journey together.  Truth became infused with the gray hairs of Grace when Jesus was fully mature and following completely the mission God had given him.

Give much grace to youth and give much truth to laying a foundation.  When youth has become mature, and the foundation is certain, use elements of each to accomplish the mission of serving others, dying for them, and living in new life to show them the eternal kingdom where grace and truth reside forever.

 

 

 

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