When I was in the first grade, Mrs. Summers brought a large square bag of modeling clay to school. We were given some clay and everyone tried to make something. I made a camel, and Mom put that camel in her nativity for the rest of her life.
Mrs. Summers put the clay on the counter right beside the sink where we always washed our hands before lunch. She gave very specific instructions: “The clay will dry out if you punch a hole in the plastic bag. Do NOT punch a hole in the bag.”
One day, I was in line behind my friend Jeff and he punched his finger in the clay. Couldn’t help himself. We’d all wanted to. Jeff did it. Nobody said a word.
The next day we were in line again, and I saw the hole Jeff made. I put my finger in the same hole. I didn’t press, I just felt the hole. Later the day Mrs. Summers started the inquisition. “Class, someone has poked a hole in the clay. . . who was it? If you don’t tell me I will have no choice but to call the police. They will come and take fingerprints and the guilty party will be severely punished. If you admit it right now you will still be punished but not as bad.” I cut a quick glance at Jeff. He was stone cold silent. He didn’t blink.
I was sweating bullets. I hadn’t punched the hole, but as far as I knew my finger was the last one in. My prints would turn up on the FBI spreadsheet and then I’d really get it!
Jeff didn’t know my dilemma. He only knew his danger. I cracked under pressure, “Mrs. Summers, I did it.” Jeff was flabbergasted as I walked to the front of the class. Mrs. Summers was steaming. She gave me a couple of hard swats and then made me stay in and write lines at recess.
In the first grade that was brutal.
I took Jeff’s whooping that day. But I didn’t like it.
Later it dawned on me why they beat Jesus so brutally. He was taking my whooping. For the first time I understood Isaiah.
But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! (Isaiah 53: 5)