There was a certain school, among the mountains of Virginia, which no teacher could handle. The boys were so rough that the teachers resigned.
A young, gray-eyed teacher applied, and the old director scanned him; then said, "Young fellow, do you know what you are asking? An awful beating! Every teacher we have had for years has had to take it."
He replied, "I'll risk it."
Finally, he appeared for duty. One big fellow, Tom, whispered, "I won't need any help. I can lick him myself!"
The teacher said, "Good morning boys! We have come to conduct school, but I confess I do not know how unless you help me. Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me and I will write them on the blackboard."
One fellow yelled, "No stealing!" Another yelled, "On time." Finally ten rules appeared.
"Now," said the teacher, "a law is no good unless there is a penalty attached to it. What shall we do with the one who breaks the rules?"
"Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on."
"That is pretty severe, boys. Are you ready to stand by it?" Another yell, and the teacher said, "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 little fellow, trembling, came up slowly with a big coat fastened up to the neck and pleaded, "Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like, but please don't make me take my coat off."
"Take that coat off; you helped make the rules."
"Oh teacher, don't make me!" He began to unbutton, and what did the teacher behold! Lo, the lad had no shirt on, but strings for suspenders over his little bony body.
"How can I whip this child?" thought he. "But I must do something if I keep this school." Everything was quiet as death. "How come you to be without a shirt, Jim?"
He replied, "My father died and mother is very poor. I have only one shirt to my name, and she is washing that today, and I wore my brother's big coat to keep warm."
The teacher with rod in hand hesitated. Just then "Big Tom" jumped to his feet and said, "Teacher, if you don't object, I will take Jim's licking for him."
"Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?"
Off came Tom's coat, and after five hard strokes the rod broke! The teacher bowed his head in his hands, and thought, "How can I finish this awful task?"
Then he heard the entire school sobbing, and what did he see? Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. "Tom, I am sorry I stole your dinner, but I was awfully hungry. Tom, I'll love you 'til I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I'll love you forever!"
My friend, you have broken God's rules of righteousness. He says, "There is none righteous, no not one ... For all have sinned." You deserve God's punishment - eternal judgment. Yet there is a Substitute for you. The Lord Jesus Christ bore that dreadful scourging for sinners, when He died upon the cross. "For Christ also hath suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." If you will receive Him as your Substitute and Saviour, the judgment which has fallen upon Him will never be repeated. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Is. 53:5-6).