The boy stands defiantly with his head bent back and hands clenched. “Go ahead. Give it to me; I can take it.”
The principal looked down at the young rebel. “How many times have you been here?”
The child sneers rebelliously, “Apparently, not enough.”
The principal gives the boy a strange look and says, “You have been punished each time, have you not?”
“Yeah, I’ve been punished; if that’s what you want to call it.” He throws out his small chest and says, “Go ahead, I can take whatever you can dish out; I always have.”
Carefully studying the boy’s face, the principal says, “Are there any thoughts of punishment when you break these rules?”
“Nope; I do whatever I want. Nothing you people can do to stop me.”
The principal looks over at the teacher who is sitting nearby and asks, “What did he do this time?”
“Fighting. He took little Tommy and pushed his head into the sand.”
The principal turns to look at the boy and asks, “Why? What did little Tommy do to you?”
“Nothing’, I didn’t like the way he was looking at me; just like I don’t like the way you’re looking at me now! In fact, if I thought I could do it, I’d push your face into something.”
The teacher stiffens and starts to rise, but a quick look from the principal stops him. He contemplates the child for a moment and then quietly says, “Today, my young student, is the day you will learn about grace.”
“Grace? Isn’t that what you old people do before you eat your food? I don’t need any of your stinking grace.”
“Oh, but you do,” says the principal. After studying the boy’s face he whispers, “Oh yes, you truly do need grace.” The boy glared as the principal continued. “Grace, in its short definition, is unmerited favor. You can’t earn grace, my child. Grace is a gift and it’s always freely given. Grace means you will not be getting what you so richly deserve.”
The boy looked puzzled. “You’re not going to flog me? You are just going to let me go? unpunished?”
The principal looks down at the unyielding child and says, “Yes, I am going to let you go unpunished.”
The boy studies the face of the principal and says, “No punishment at all? You’re not going to punish me even though I maltreated Tommy and shoved his face into the sand?”
“Oh, there has to be punishment. What you did was wrong and there will always be consequences for our actions. There will be punishment. Grace is not an excuse for doing wrong.”
“I knew it,” sneers the boy. Holding out his hands he says, “Let’s get on with it.”
The principal nods toward the teacher and says, “Bring me the belt.” The teacher presents the belt to the principal. He carefully folds it in two and hands it back to the teacher. He looks at the child and says, “I want you to count the blows.” The principal slides out from behind his desk and walks over to the child.
The child stands defiantly with his hands outstretched. The principal gently moves the child’s expectant hands down to his sides. Turning to the teacher, the principal stretches out his own hands and quietly says, “Begin.”
The belt slaps against the principal’s outstretched hands. Crack! The young boy jumps. Shock registers across his face, “One” he whispers. Crack! “Two.” His voice raises an octave. Crack! “Three.” He is unable to believe this. Crack! “Four.” Big tears well up in the eyes of the young rebel. “Okay, stop! That’s enough. Stop!” Crack! The belt continues to come down on the principal’s swollen hands. Crack! The child flinches with each blow. Tears start streaming down the child’s face. Crack! Crack! “No, please,” the former rebel begs. “Stop. I’m the one who did it. I’m the one who deserves the punishment. Stop! Please stop,” the boy sobs. Still the blows come. Crack! Crack!
Finally it is over. The principal, with sweat glistening across his forehead, turns to the former rebel and kneels down. Carefully cradling the child’s face with his swollen hands, the principal softly says, “This, my boy, is grace.”
This story is an excellent example of God’s grace (unmerited favor). Just as the boy received the opposite of what he deserved, we too can receive the opposite of what we deserve.
Although some people feel that an Almighty God should “forgive and forget” our sins, He can’t. His holy and righteous nature demands He properly deal with our sins. Every transgression has to be punished. There are always consequences for our actions. And that was the reason God stepped forward through his son Jesus and was punished in our place. Our sins are not forgotten but forgiven, because Jesus received their due punishment. He bore the stripes we deserved. He was bruised and pierced in our place. God’s grace (unmerited favor) means we did not get what we so richly deserved. God’s love for us has no strings attached. He did all this because he loves us. It is called pure, unmerited GRACE.