He Took My Beating Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
He Took My Beating
Sierra and I have worked in Children’s Church for many years. Although we are not currently teaching children, I have some very fond memories of those days. The sermon for today is one that I first gave during a Children’s Church service, but it is also for adults. I have a very hard time getting through the message, because I usually cry along the way, so bear with me.
I want to tell you a story, and I don’t remember if it is true or not, so please just accept it for what it is intended, an illustration. But first, let me introduce you to the main characters and give you some background.
Billy is the biggest kid in his school, and he is older than most because he was held back for several years. Also, he’s a bully and there is a gang of boys that follow him around.
Johnny is just the opposite of Billy; he is small for his age, he doesn’t say much, and his family is very poor.
Mr. Allison has been hired as the new school teacher, for the new school year, and the children don’t know anything about him.
Now for some background. The year is 1885, and it’s the first day of school for the children of this small school in upstate, South Carolina. The last teacher had left unexpectedly, and the students are waiting outside of the one-room school house for the new teacher to arrive. They are just standing around in groups talking and looking down the road, in the direction that he will come.
The group of boys that surround Billy are listening intently as he says, “I ran the last one off, and this teacher won’t last long either. He’ll be gone before the week is over.”
The attention of everyone in the school yard is then shifted to the man on horseback, who was riding in the direction of the school.
He was tall and thin, and under his arm, he carried a black book.
He rode directly to the hitching post, and when he had tied up his horse, he walked inside the schoolhouse without saying a word. In a few minutes, the bell rang and the children began to file into the building, but the conversations concerning the new teacher continued.
Billy took his seat on the back row, and his gang took the chairs that were close by.
The big black book that the teacher had carried was on his desk; now they could see that it was the Bible.
Mr. Allison introduced himself, and he said that he was glad to be their teacher. He said, “I want you to learn a lot this year, and for all of you to have a good year. But if we are going to have a good year, we need to have some rules. I am not going to make up the rules, however, that will be your job. Tell me, what should the rules be?”
Becky said that a good rule would be NO CHEATING. Mr. Allison wrote NO CHEATING on the blackboard. He said, “That is a good rule; doesn’t everyone agree?”
Mike was excited and he yelled, “How about “NO LYING”. Mr. Allison said, “That is another good rule.” And he wrote NO LYING right under NO CHEATING.
Mary raised her hand, and when Mr. Allison asked her for a rule she said, “I think a good rule is NO TALKING WHILE THE TEACHER IS TALKING. Mr. Allison wrote NO TALKING under NO LYING.
Frank was the next one to raise his hand, and his rule was NO FIGHTING.
Mark suggested NO STEALING.
There were ten rules in all, and each was written on the blackboard. The children were really focused on what was going on because they had never had an opportunity to be involved in something this important.
Then Mr. Allison said, “These are all good rules. But if we are going to have rules, we must also have penalties for breaking the rules. What do you think should be the penalty for Cheating?” Jane said that the punishment should be 5 lashes.
Mr. Allison wrote 5 LASHES across from NO CHEATING.
Steve said that the punishment for lying should be 6 lashes. Mr. Allison wrote 6 lashes across from NO LYING.
The punishment for breaking each rule was determined by the children and Mr. Allison wrote it on the blackboard.
The students found that their new teacher was a kind man and a good teacher. After a slow start, they began to relax and everyone appeared to be getting along. This went along for several weeks, but then something happened during their lunch break.
Mark was very upset. He told Mr. Allison that someone had stolen his lunch. He had watched that morning as his mother placed an apple, bread and several pieces of fried chicken in his lunch bucket.
Now the bucket was empty, and he was hungry and mad. He said, “Someone stole my lunch, and they should be punished”
Mr. Allison addressed the class that afternoon. He said, “Someone has broken one of the rules. Mark’s lunch was stolen, and that is very serious. I want the one who stole it to come here and take their punishment. Remember, you all agreed that stealing was wrong.”
There was a long silence, as the children looked from one to another. Then from his seat in the middle of the room, Johnny stood and slowly walked to the front with tears running down his cheeks and his head down.
He stood in front of Mr. Allison and said, “I’m sorry I stole the lunch, but I was so hungry. We didn’t have anything for breakfast this morning, and I was so hungry that I couldn’t help it.”
His friends all knew that his family was very poor. He looked so small beside Mr. Allison. And his appearance showed how really poor he was; his cloths were torn and dirty and he didn’t wear shoes.
The boys and girls felt sorry for him but waited for Mr. Allison to speak.
He said, “You know the rules. NO STEALING was one of them, and the punishment is 10 lashes.” Then he told Johnny to bend over the desk. There was a switch, which was kept in the corner, just for this purpose. Mr. Allison got the switch and was about to administer the whipping.
From the back of the room, Billy yelled, “No! Don’t do it, he is too small. I’ll take his place.”
“But you didn’t steal the lunch”, Mr. Allison said
“I don’t care,” Billy said. There were a few tears in his eyes, and his voice broke when he spoke.
Mr. Allison thought for a minute, and then he said, “I guess that we didn’t say who it was that would be punished, so if everyone agrees, I will allow it.”
Mr. Allison asked for everyone who would allow Billy to take Johnny’s punishment to raise their hand. It was unanimous. Billy would take Johnny’s place. He would be whipped instead.
Billy placed himself across the desk and took the whipping. I wish I could say that it didn’t hurt, but I can’t. Billy yelled every time the switch landed, and all the boys and girls reacted to each lash, especially Johnny.