By Michelle Bickers
I’m not really sure what company thought it would be a great idea to manufacture a plush Jesus, but one did and it’s been in our household for a good many years now. My son, Benji, tells me that a church we visited in Memphis gave it to us for Good Friday many years ago. Appropriate enough I guess, but there is something odd about a stuffed Jesus in a white robe, blue sash and very large blue eyes.
When my kids were little, they spent happy days on end lost in stuffed animal adventures. Unfortunately, they seemed to find it difficult to incorporate this toy into their hours of play, and many times Plush Jesus ended up under someone’s bed or in a dark corner of a closet. I’ve had him in the give away bag many times, but thinking of Jesus as a cast off, even in a stuffed version, always pained me and caused me to pull him back out of the bag and find a place for him.
One Friday afternoon several years ago, while I was visiting with a friend and engrossed in deep discussion, my middle son, Benji, put plush Jesus in a mason jar, filled it with water, and put it in the freezer. A couple of days later, he opened the freezer and called his sister, “Abbey, come look, Jesus broke the jar!” “What?” I said, running to the refrigerator to discover shards of glass mingled with packages of frozen peas, carrots, and corn, the jar shattered.
I thought of this story as I read John 9. In this story from our Scripture reading we encounter real Jesus, a man born blind, and religious leaders who are desperate to stuff Jesus in their jars labeled “sinner” and “blasphemer.” But try as they may, the religious leaders found neither of their jars could contain him.
To this day, I recall my conflicted feelings after seeing plush Jesus in my freezer amid broken glass, ice and vegetables. I did not know whether to laugh hysterically or cry from our disrespect. Throughout the remainder of the day I pondered the scene and finally the thought occurred to me – isn’t it just like real Jesus to shatter the jars we try to contain Him in? Didn’t he spend his life on earth shattering the expectations and labels that humans put on him? After that, I could had a good belly laugh, and I can’t help but wonder if real Jesus did too when he shattered the Pharisees’ containers that day.