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THE RULES AND THE RULER


Back in the day of one-room school houses, a story is told about a little girl named Mary. Mary was so excited because it was the first day of school! Miss Tomlin was the new teacher and since it was the first day, Miss Tomlin thought it a good idea to lay some ground rules.


"Ok boys and girls. We need to establish some rules. Does anyone have some suggestions for rules?" One young man raised his hand, "How about we make it a rule that you can’t cheat on homework or tests." Everyone agreed...yeah...that’s a good rule. Another student raised their hand, "Let’s say you must arrive to class on time." After a few moments, the class collectively came up with 10 rules.


Miss Tomlin asked, "Now what do we do if one of those rules is broken?" After much discussion a punishment was decided upon.


All was going well. It was now several months into the school year, and one day, Miss Tomlin said, "Class, take out your pencils and paper for quiz."


Mary suddenly noticed that her pencil was broken. So she leaned over to her friend. "Susan...do you have a pencil I can borrow?" before she could get a response, she heard from the front of the room, the voice of Miss Tomlin, "Mary, I’ll need to see you after school."


Mary was dreading the end of the day. Finally the large school bell was rung and Miss Tomlin dismissed everyone to go home. "Mary, could you please come here?"


Everyone was walking out the door on their way home. Miss Tomlin said, "Mary, do you remember the rules we decided upon at the beginning of the school year?" Mary nodded. "They are posted over there." Mary said.


"Can you read rule #4 for me, Mary?" asked Miss Tomlin

"If you have something to say, raise your hand." Mary said. "But Miss Tomlin...I didn’t have..."


"This is no time for excuses. You broke the rule. And do you remember the punishment that was decided upon?"


Mary nodded as she remembered, "Three strikes with a ruler to the back of the hand."


"Hold out your hand, Mary."


Mary held out her hand with her eyes closed tightly waiting for the intense pain of the ruler. Mary flinched when she felt something touching her hand. But it wasn’t a ruler. She opened her eyes and was shocked to see the hand of her older brother Billy covering her hand. Billy spoke up, "Miss Tomlin, it’s true that Mary broke one of the rules that we as a class set up. And it’s also true that the punishment for breaking one of those rules is three strikes with a ruler to the back of the hand. But it doesn’t say who has to receive the punishment for breaking one of those rules. So I’d like to take the punishment here for my sister."


"Very well." Miss Tomlin said. "hold out your hand, Jim."


WHACK. WHACK. WHACK.


And that’s exactly what Christ did for you and for me. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus put his hand over ours. You see, long ago, God set up the rules.


(From a sermon by Mark Nichols, "Ridiculous Thought #2 - The Richest Became Poorest")

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