He took my whipping for me parable

Many, many years ago in the back woods of Tennessee, there was an old one-room schoolhouse. All the kids met together, from first grade to twelfth. These kids were a wild and rowdy bunch, and had run off many teachers. Getting one teacher to stay for a full year was quite difficult. A new teacher, Mr. Jones, came to this little school intent on keeping order and teaching these rural kids their lessons. It didn’t take long for him to see how monumental this task would be.

            On the first day of class, Mr. Jones introduced himself and said, “I want each of you to help me make the rules we will all live by while this year during school. You all will help me make the consequences as well. So what do you want the rules to be?”

            The kids snickered and made comments to each other. After a few minutes of waiting, Mr. Jones looked at an older boy that clearly held a lot of respect among his peers. The boys called him Big Tom. Mr. Jones asked Big Tom to start the list of rules.

            “I don’t know,” Big Tom began. “No stealing.”

            “OK, I think that’s a good rule,” Mr. Jones replied. “What should be the consequence for someone that steals?”

            “Ten whippings without his coat on,” Big Tom said. All the other kids went silent as they thought about Big Tom’s suggestion.

            “OK, do you all agree that anyone caught stealing will receive ten whippings without their coat on?” Mr. Jones asked the rest of the class.

            All the students slowly raised their hands to agree with the new rule. After about an hour, the class had made a list of rules and consequences. After each rule was written down the whole class would raise their hands to agree to the rules. The rules ranged from spitting on others, to no fistfights at school. The consequences varied from writing on the board after school to whippings without coats.   

            After the list was complete, Mr. Jones said the students helped make the rules and they needed to help keep the rules. Many of the kids still didn’t think the new teacher would be able to follow through, but Mr. Jones was consistently tough on every student abiding by the rules. The smaller rules were broken frequently, but no one wanted to find what it felt like to get whippings from Mr. Jones.

            One cold morning, after a few lessons, the students were excused to get their lunches. Shortly after the kids got their lunches out, Big Tom yelled out, “Someone stole my lunch!”

            Mr. Jones asked the class if anyone knew where Big Tom’s lunch was or who might have taken it. Big Tom was hungry and personally interrogated half his classmates. One small boy, Steven, started moving toward the door. Mr. Jones saw Steven trying to leave and caught up to him.

“Steven, have you seen Big Tom’s lunch?” Mr. Jones asked the boy. “You didn’t take it, did you?”

“No sir,” Steven said but looked away immediately. After a short pause he admitted to stealing Big Tom’s lunch. “I am so sorry Big Tom, I was really hungry. Pa hasn’t been home much and we ain’t got much food anyhow.”

“You know the consequences for stealing. You helped write the rules the first day of class,” Mr. Jones said.

“I’ll take my whippin’ but let me keep my coat on,” Steven pleaded. His tattered coat provided little protection anyway.

“I’m afraid not,” Mr. Jones replied. “We said ten whippings without your coat.”

Trembling Steven walked up to the front of the room. He slowly removed his coat to reveal he had no shirt. It was clear to the class that the boy had missed more than a few meals.

Big Tom walked up as Mr. Jones pulled out the hickory switch he would use for the whipping.

“This boy doesn’t need to be whipped,” Big Tom said. “I don’t care about my lunch.”

“We all have to live by the rules, and the consequences,” Mr. Jones said with regret in his voice. “What’s the use of having rules if there isn’t any punishment.”

After a short pause, Big Tom looked at Mr. Jones and asked, “Can I take Steven’s whippin’ for him?”

“Are you willing to take Steven’s whipping even though he stole from you?” Mr. Jones asked with surprise and admiration.

“I am,” Big Tom replied. “Steven has learned his lesson and the punishment will be given.”

After Big Tom received ten strikes with the hickory switch, Steven grabbed Tom around the neck and pleaded for his forgiveness and promised never to steal again. “I’ll never forget how you took my whippin’ for me today.”


Why is it important for justice to be kept? How was mercy extended in this story?


Who took our “whipping” for us?


How can we accept Jesus as our Savior and repent of our sins?

Original author unknown