A Professor of Religion at a small College in the western states taught a required survey course in Christianity. Every student was required to take Dr. Christianson’s course their freshman year regardless of 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 but required church history. Upon this one Easter season however, the professor was going to make a big impact through this lecture using the agony Jesus went through for all of mankind.
Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was a freshman studying for a degree in religion and ministry. Steve was popular and an imposing physical specimen who played on the football team. He was also the best student in the professor’s class.
One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many pushups can you do?" asked the professor. Steve said, "I do about 200 every night." That’s pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?" Steve replied, "I don’t know...I’ve never done 300 at a time." Dr. Christianson said, "Do you think you could?" After thinking about it, Steve said, "Well, I can try."
The professor explained, "I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 pushups in sets of ten for this to work." Steve said, "Well...I think I can...yeah, I can do it." Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday."
Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room, quite nervous. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on this Easter weekend.
Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the front row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?" Cynthia said, "Yes." Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Cynthia can have a donut?" Somewhat surprised, but figuring the professors plan out, Steve said, "Sure," and jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Steve sat back in his desk and Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.
Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person in the front row, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?" Joe said, "Yes sir, I do." Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten pushups so Joe can have a donut?" Steve jumped down to the floor and did ten pushups as Joe got a donut out of the box and ate it in front of the whole class.
You Can't Do Your Own Pushups
And so it went, down the first aisle and into the second aisle, each student taking a donut as Steve did ten pushups for every person. As Dr. Christianson came to the end of the second aisle, he came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good of condition as Steve. When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?" Scott’s reply was, "Well, can I do my own pushups?" The entire class laughed.
Dr. Christianson said, "No, Scott. Steve has to do them." Then Scott said, "Well, I don’t want one then." Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups for Scott so that he can have a donut he doesn’t want?" Beginning to understand where the professor was going, Steve started to do ten pushups. Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn’t want one!" The professor said, "Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it."
Now, by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little as the professor went through the third row of students. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to get up and down. His efforts began to cause Steve to sweat and his pace became slower.
Uneasiness In The Room
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry at their teacher. One student walked out of the classroom in protest. Dr. Christianson came to Jenny and asked, "Jenny, do you want a donut?" Sternly, Jenny said, "No." Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more pushups 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 ask the professor to stop. But, he wouldn’t stop his lecture on this Friday afternoon. There were uneaten donuts on the desks of most students throughout the room. All the while, Steve continued to put forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done for each student. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor where he was doing pushups, and his arms and face were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
At the end of the fourth row, Dr. Christianson asked Robert, the most vocal unbeliever in the class, if he wanted a donut. He simply shook his head no. Then Dr. Christianson asked Robert to get up and watch Steve do each pushup to make sure he did the full ten. As Robert got up to count the pushups, the professor placed another donut on Roberts desk. As Dr. Christianson started down the fifth row of students, there were other students who began to come into the classroom and witness what was going on.
Don't Come In!
By now, many students had refused the donut. Some in tears, some angry, and some in silence. Near the end of the fifth row, Steve was really having a difficult time completing the pushups. And yet, there were still more students in the room who hadn't been offered a donut.
The professor locked eyes with Steve as if to see if he could keep going. With pain in his eyes and muscles tensed in sweat, Steve readied himself for the next set of pushups. With everyone in the room watching the professor, the door suddenly swung open. Jason, a student from another classroom, had come to the room and was about to walk in when all of the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!"
In the middle of his pushups, Steve picked up his head and looked at the door where Jason was standing. And he said, "Wait, let him come." Professor Christianson said, "Steve, you realize that I am going to offer Jason a donut and you are going to have to do ten pushups for him?"
Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. I’ll do it." Dr. Christianson turned to the new student and offered him a donut. Jason, new to the room and unaware what was going on, simply said, “Sure, I’ll take one."
Dr. Christianson gave Jason a donut and spoke with a firm voice so that the entire room could hear, "Steve, do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut." Steve began to struggle as he attempted to do the pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, took the donut and sat down.
As Steve barely finished his last pushup, he collapsed, exhausted. Steve’s arms were now shaking and the pain on his face relayed that he could not go on any longer. Sweat was dropping off of his face and his breathing was heavy. The room was silent for just a moment.
The Last Students
And then Dr. Christianson turned to the last student in the fifth row. He offered Linda a donut. She refused and started to cry.
And then Dr. Christianson turned to Steve and said, “Steve, will you do ten more pushups for the donut Linda doesn’t want?” At this point, she wasn’t the only person crying in the room. The students couldn’t take it anymore, and one of them asked the professor if he could do the pushups for the last two students.
Professor Christianson turned to Steve. As Steve lay on the floor in pain, he simply looked at the room full of students and said, “I have to do this. No one else can do what I have to do." As he turned to complete the pushups, grunting from the effort, Steve did ten, very slow pushups for Linda, and fell to the ground.
Christ Paid For Each Of Us
The entire class could not believe what they were seeing. Steve was laying on the floor exhausted and in pain. There were over 30 people in the room and each of them had been offered a free gift by Dr. Christianson. A gift that was being paid for by the pain and suffering of another student.
The professor walked to the front of the room, with tears of his own, he said, "When I decided to teach on this Easter theme again, God gave me an idea. I looked at my grade book and found that Steve is the only student with a perfect grade and attendance in this course so far. Everyone else has either missed an A, skipped a class, or offered me inferior work. And the only way I could show this class the most accurate view of Christianity would be to sacrifice Steve.
Looking at Steve on the ground, Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, gave his life for you and I so that we could have eternal life. So that everyone who would come for all eternity could have the free gift of heaven. Now, each one of you has a choice to accept or to reject this gift of eternal life, or to leave it here, on the desk, just like this donut."
When he was finished talking, two students walked over and helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, he sat there physically exhausted, but wearing a smile on his face. The professor looked at Steve and said, “Sometimes it takes more than words to tell the story of Christ."