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“You think you know everything, but you know nothing, not about me anyway!” David said. “But if you’re so smart, why can’t you understand that I don’t want to be just like you? I don’t even want to be with you, and I want you to get out of my life. Who made you my boss? You are my brother, Nick, nothing more, so back off.”

“Yes,” Nick answered. “I am your brother, your older brother; Dad and Mom told me a long time ago that when they are not around I’m responsible for you, David. You have no idea how many times I have saved you from pain or even death. You are an accident waiting to happen – all the time. No, you are more than that. You and your friends look for trouble; you are wicked! You should be ashamed of yourself, but you are not. The one thing you do well is to lie to your parents. They have no idea about what you do when they are not around.”

“You make me out to be a criminal!” David protested. “My friends and I are just kids who like to have fun. I won’t be twelve for another year, and then I’ll have to find a job. But in the meantime, I want a life! I don’t want to be spending all my time in the Book, studying the Law like you do. That’s no life! All you are concerned about is doing the right thing. You are so afraid of doing anything wrong that you do nothing but study. If you were working at learning something useful you might become normal, have friends and even have fun. You want to be just like our father, I don’t.”

“Of course I want to be like our father,” Nick said. “He is a respected leader concerned about being a good person, keeping the law of God. He has studied the Law all his life, and lives by it. He not only keeps the law but also the regulations that have come down from our ancestors. He is the most righteous man I know.”

“You are so into the Law, studying all the time, that you don’t know how our father’s friends live. They know the Law, but just use it to control people and look like they are righteous. But they are frauds, and that is what you are becoming. Look, if you want to stay here all day studying the law, good for you. I want to spend the rest of Sabbath with my friends.”

“Well forget that idea, David, you have to spend the rest of the day here with me,” Nick said as he walked to the table, sat down sighing heavily, and opening the Isaiah scroll he had just the day before brought home from the synagogue. Starting to read, he came across the words, “Hear, O heavens! Listen O earth! For the LORD has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.’”

“Wow, David, I’m reading about you in this Isaiah scroll written hundreds of years ago,” Nick said. “Listen to this! ‘The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!’ That’s you, David! You are a child given to corruption!” David said nothing.

Nick kept on reading aloud. “They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion?” Nick stopped reading and said, “The problem is, David, you haven’t been beaten enough.” David said nothing.

Nick continued, “Maybe I should beat the wickedness out of you, David. Dad won’t because he doesn't even see it. He thinks your wickedness is just childish pranks. But I know better. You think I’m soft because I study the law, but I can still beat the stuffing out of you.” David said nothing.

“Have you been listening to me, David?” Nick turned around, looking at the chair where David had been sitting. It was empty. Nick jumped up and started looking. Then he saw it – the small window at the back of the house – David could fit through that. Now Nick was really angry, and just about ready to run out the front door to look for David when he stopped and said out loud the words that came to him. “I was watching him, he snuck out. If something bad happens to him, Dad can’t blame me.” Nick sat down again and continued reading.

Meanwhile David was looking for his friends in all the places they normally gathered. Since it was Sabbath, he ran up to the Huldah Gates near the Royal Porch where the boys often met. Not there! So he ran down toward the Valley Gate. (David always ran, which is why his friends nicknamed him, “Speedy.”) Just inside the Valley Gate he saw Bart, Simon and Saul, three of his friends. “Hey, guys, goin’ out to shoot?” he asked as he joined them.

“Yes, Speedy,” answered Bart. “You got your slingshot?”

“Of course,” said David. “Always!” The boys walked down the steep path to the Kidron Valley floor, across the road, and a few steps east to the riverbed. This was their favorite place to compete with each other at slinging rocks. Both riverbanks were lined with boulders and the riverbed was covered with rocks the perfect size for a slingshot. They stopped in front of the river, chose a boulder on the opposite riverbank and began slinging toward it. After a few warm-up shots, they began taking turns and keeping score. After four shots each, the score was David and Saul - 4 each, Bart - 3, and Simon - 1.

As they bent down to pick up more rocks, David looked back toward the road and saw a pack of donkeys and three drivers coming toward them from the north. “Hey guys,” he exclaimed, “Let’s see how good we really are. If we hide behind the riverbank and each shoot a rock at the donkeys, we can scare them all into running, and the drivers won’t even know what spooked them. Aim for the donkeys’ hind quarters, just behind their loads.”

“Here we go,” said Saul, as they ran toward the riverbank, spreading out behind four large boulders. As the pack started to pass them, David stood, whirled his slingshot around his head twice, and shot his rock at the lead donkey. The other boys followed with their shots immediately. The donkeys all bolted and started running in different directions, but Simon’s rock hit one of the drivers on the shoulder, then grazed his head. Turning toward the boys, he saw David, swore loudly and started running toward him. The other drivers were chasing donkeys. “Scatter,” shouted Saul, already running south alongside the river. As David passed Saul and turned toward the road with the driver following him, Saul yelled, “Watch out, Speedy, he has a knife!”

Running along the road, David put a little more distance between himself and his pursuer, and then as he started running up the incline toward the city the distance between them began growing. Fortunately although the driver was older and bigger than David, he was out of shape and already winded.

After running through the Valley Gate, David stopped, turned around and saw no one coming up the road. Still panting to catch his breath, he started jogging toward home.

Half way home, he heard shouts behind him, turned his head and saw the driver running toward him, now only about 30 yards away. Immediately running at top speed he headed for home. Flinging the door open, he ran in saying, “Nick, you gotta help me. A guy with a knife is chasing me!” Running straight to the back window, he pushed himself outside and vanished. Nick turned toward the door to shut it just as the driver ran in, stopped and said “Where’s the kid?”

“He’s not in here,” Nick said.

“Don’t lie to me!” the driver shouted as he grabbed Nick by his hair, stepped behind him and dragged him to the chair. “I saw him come through the door.”

“I don’t lie,” Nick said. “He went out again through the back window.”

“No way,” said the driver. “He’s fast, but not that fast.” Putting the tip of his knife just in front of Nick’s right ear, he said, “I’m tired of chasing him. You pay for what your brother did to me!” He pulled the knife tip straight down toward Nick’s chin opening a three inch cut in his cheek, then from just under Nick’s eye he cut him again, crossing the first cut, toward the bottom of his ear lobe. “There!” he said, letting go of Nick’s hair. You have paid for your friend’s sin. Now we are even. You decide how you are going to get even with him.” The driver turned and walked out the door, slamming it behind him.

Nick sat in the chair, stunned and bleeding. Putting his hand to his cheek to stop the flow of blood and numb the pain, he began crying, his tears mixing with his blood, dropping onto his robe.

By the time his parents returned from the temple, the blood had stopped flowing and clots had formed on his cheek over the cuts. Nick was still sitting in the chair, stunned and numb. “What happened?” asked his mother, beginning to cry.

“A big guy chasing David ran in here, and not seeing David, grabbed me and cut me to get revenge for something David did.”

“Where is David,” asked his father.

“After running in here, he jumped out the back window,” Nick said.

Nick’s mother had stepped away, picked up a clean cloth, dipped it in wine and began swabbing Nick’s wound. “This will make it sting some more, but it will help,” she said.

Nick held his head steady for her, then said, “The deepest pain is knowing that now I cannot minister in the temple. No one with a scar like this is permitted to minister. Everything I have been working for all my life is gone.”

Pulling up a chair to face Nick, his father sat down, and taking Nick’s head gently in his hands, he looked into Nick’s eyes and said, “Junior, I had a conversation last night with a Rabbi who told me that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again. My whole life has been all about living up to the commandments and instructions of the Law, but the Rabbi told me I must start all over again, and if I believe in him, God’s only son, I will have eternal life. If I live by this truth I will come into the light and see that what I have done has been done through God. This is what he meant by saying that I must be born again. Maybe this injury to you is the beginning of you being born again too.”

Family Discussion Questions
The Slingshot and the Knife

This story is fictional, based on Doctor Luke’s non-fictional, true account of a conversation between a religious leader, Nicodemus and Messiah Jesus found in the Bible in John 3:1-21.

Q. What words did you hear in the story that you didn’t know?

A. Give your children the meaning of each word they remember but can’t define.

Q. What is Nick & David’s father’s name, and how do you know?

A. Nicodemus - He called Nick “Junior,” and he met with Rabbi Jesus with their discussion described in John 3.

Q. What do you think were some of Nick’s motives for spending so much time studying the Law?

A. Possibly: To be like his father, to become a Pharisee and a leader like his father, to be right and righteous, to minister in the temple and maybe other motives too.

Q. What do you think some of David’s motives were for his way of life?

A. Possibly: To have fun, to do what he felt like doing, to play, to feel the joy of running, to avoid responsibility as long as possible and maybe other motives too.

Q. Without meaning to, how did the driver bless Nick?

A. By carving a cross on his face he helped Nick and his father understand what Jesus would later do on a cross to redeem them both.

Q. What does the word “redeem” mean?

A. It means “to buy back.”

Q. What was the redemption price Nick paid for David’s irresponsibility and impulsive behavior?

A . A cross carved on his face and the loss of his life dream.

Q. What was the redemption price Jesus paid for all our sins?

A. Cruel torture, scars and death on a cross. See John 3:14-21

Q. What do you think Jesus meant in John 3:16 when he said to Nick & David’s father, “. . .whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”?

A. Whoever will trust that Jesus’ death on a cross will pay the penalty for his or her sin – all the wrong and bad things he or she has done – will have eternal life that starts immediately.

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Copyright © 2015 Dr. Rex Johnson
All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used with author’s permission.

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