There was a certain professor of religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught a required course in Christianity at this Particular institution. Every student was required to take this course regardless of his or her major.
Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the Gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing more than required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.
This year Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going on to Seminary. Steve was popular, well liked and an imposing physical specimen. He was the starting center on the school football team and the best student in the class.
One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk “how many push-ups can you do?”
Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”
“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”
“I don’t know,” Steve replied, “I’ve never done 300 at a time.”
“Do you think you could?” again asked the professor.
“Well, I could try,” said Steve.
“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” said Dr. Christianson.
Steve said, “Well… I think I can… yeah, I can do it.”
Dr. Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”
Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren’t the normal kind of donuts, these were the big fancy kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited that it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson’s class.
Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia would you like one of these donuts?” Cynthia said, “Yes please.”
Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you please do ten push-ups so that Cynthia may have a donut?”
“Sure.” Steve jumped down from the desk, did ten quick push-ups, and then returned to his desk.
Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk. Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe do you want a donut?”
Joe said, “Yes.”
The professor asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”
Steve did ten push-ups and Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle. Steve did ten push-ups for each person before they received a donut. Dr. Christianson continued down the second aisle until he came to Scott.
Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good of physical condition as Steve. Scott was popular and never lacking female companionship. When the professor asked, “Scott would you like a donut?”
Scott’s reply was, “Yes, if I can do my own push-ups.”
Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”
Scott said, “Then I don’t want one”
The professor shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have the donut he doesn’t want?”
With perfect obedience Steve started to do the push-ups.
Scott yelled, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!”
Dr. Christianson said sternly, “Look, this is my class, these are my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.
Now by this time, Steve had begun to perspire and was starting to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to get up and down. As Dr. Christianson started down the third row, many students were beginning to get a little angry.
Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”
Jenny’s answer was a firm, “No!”
Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten…Jenny got a donut.
By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say “No” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There was a pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face and his arms were beginning to turn red because of the physical effort being put forth.
Because Dr. Christianson could no longer bear to watch Steve’s hard work go for all these uneaten donuts, he asked Robert, the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push-up to make sure he did all ten in each set.
As the professor started down the fourth row, he noticed some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. He did a quick count and saw that there were now thirty-four students in the room. He started to worry that Steve would not be able to make it. He went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of the row, Steve was really having a hard time. It was taking a lot more time to complete each set.
Just then, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room. He was about to enter when at once all of the students yelled, “NO!! Don’t come in!!” Jason didn’t know what was going on.
Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”
Professor Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?”
“Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut.”
Dr. Christianson said, “Okay Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”
Not even knowing what was going on, Jason said, “Yes, I’ll have a donut.”
“Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?”
Steve did ten very slow and labored push-ups. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row and started on the visitors seated by the radiators. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was profusely dripping off of his face and there was no sound except his heavy breathing. By this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.
The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very well-liked. Dr. Christianson went to Linda and asked if she wanted a donut.
Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”
The professor quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.
Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan “Susan, do you want a donut?”
Susan, with tears streaming down her face pleaded, “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him?”
Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, explained, “No, Steve has to do it alone. I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone here has an opportunity
for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered up inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice when a player messes up, he has to do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to the party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.
Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?”
As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, plead to the Father, ‘into Thy hands I commend my spirit.’ With the understanding that He had accomplished all that was required of Him, He yielded up His life for us. And like some of those in this room, many leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”
Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.
“Well done good and faithful servant,” said the professor, adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”
Turning to the class the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God spared not His only begotten son, but gave him up for us and for the whole world, now and forever. Whether we choose to accept His gift to us, the price for our sins has been paid. Wouldn’t it be foolish and wouldn’t it be ungrateful just to leave it laying on the desk?”