Well, when he appeared for duty in the little school, one big fellow, Tom whispered out loud, "I won’t need any help; I can lick him myself." The teacher said, "Good morning. We have come to conduct school." The students yelled a sarcastic "Good morning" back at the teacher at the top of their lungs.
"Now, I want a good school," the teacher continued, "but I confess, I don’t know how unless you help me.” Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me and I’ll write them on the blackboard." One fellow yelled, "No stealing!" Another chipped in, "On time!" Finally ten rules appeared.
"Now, said the teacher, "a law is not good unless there is a penalty attached. What shall we do with the one who breaks them?" "Beat them across the back ten times without his coat on!" came the shout. "That is a pretty severe punishment, boys; are you ready to stand by it?" A yell in the affirmative greeted the teacher. "All right," said the teacher, "then school comes to order."
In a day or so "Big Tom" found his dinner was stolen. Upon inquiry the thief was located - a little hungry fellow about ten. The next morning the teacher announced, "We have found the thief and he must be punished according to your rule - ten stripes across the back! Jim, come up here!"
The trembling little fellow came up slowly with a big coat, buttoned and pinned up around his neck. He pleaded, "Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like but please don’t make me take off my coat." "You helped make the rule," reasoned the teacher; “take the coat off."
"Oh, teacher, don’t make me!" he begged, but the teacher’s stern face showed no leniency, so he began to unbutton. And what did the teacher behold? The lad had no shirt on and only strings for suspenders over his bony little body. "How can I whip this boy?" thought the teacher. "But I must do something if I am going to keep this class’ respect."
Everyone was quiet as death. "How come you came to school without a shirt, Jim?" asked the teacher. "My father died, and we ain’t got much. I only have one shirt, and mother’s washing it today, so I wore my brother’s coat to keep warm."
With a sigh of a heavy heart, the teacher hesitatingly grasped the rod in his hand. Just then "Big Tom" jumped to his feet and said, "Teacher, if you don’t mind, I’ll take Jim’s licking for him." “Very well, there is a certain law that one can take another’s punishment for him. Are you all agreement?"
With the class’ consent Tom removed his coat, and after five strokes the rod broke. The teacher bowed his head and thought, "How can I finish this awful task?" Then he heard the entire class sobbing and what did he see? Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around the neck. "Tom, I’m awful sorry. Tom, I was so hungry. I’ll love you till I die for taking my licking for me. I’ll love you forever!"
It was an exchange of lives – the innocent taking the penalty of the guilty.
Yes, there is a certain law that one can take another’s punishment for him. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 3:23 NKJV).
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