The Whipping Boy
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.
When my son was in the fourth grade, he read the story of a young prince who had a “whipping boy.” The whipping boy was a boy his own age who came from a poor family and lived in the castle. Whenever the prince did something wrong, the servants in charge of him would whip the whipping boy. The parents believed that if the young prince saw someone else taking the punishment for his crimes, he would be remorseful and stop his bad behavior. The opposite, however, happened. Because he had someone else to always take his punishment, he never suffered any consequences and saw no need to cease his bad behavior.
One day, the prince decided he wanted to leave the castle, so he switched clothes with the whipping boy. They two were kidnapped, and the kidnappers confused the two. The young prince quickly came to realize just how much the whipping boy had suffered at his own hand and came to understand how unfair it was for someone else to take his punishment. While he could have had the young prince suffer for all he had done to him, he stepped in to save the young prince. After returning to the castle, the young prince had a change of heart and did not want the whipping boy to suffer any longer, so he changed his behavior.
In many ways, this story reflects the gospel of Christ. He is our “whipping boy.” God has already punished Him for our sins, but what is our response to it? Do we continue in our sins, thinking grace has already covered it, or do we watch our behavior carefully so as not to hurt Him any longer by our actions. Christ left the splendor of heaven to become a baby and live a poor life on earth. He died for the sins we committed. Do we look at His sacrifice as undeserving and have compassion for Him, or do we use it as an excuse to do what we want to do?
We do not appreciate grace until we realize we deserve His punishment. We are guilty and deserve the wrath of God, but Christ has stepped in and provided a new way for us. He did not die so we can live any way we want. He died so we can live the life God purposed for us. Until we can embrace God’s grace, we will never live out of purpose; we will live out of preference. Preference will never satisfy, but purpose will fulfill.
If you were kidnapped today, would there be enough evidence to prove you are a child of the king, or would you look like a rebellious sinner who deserved to die? Is Jesus your Lord, or is He your whipping boy? Choose to live out of a sense of purpose, and die to your preferences. You are guilty and deserve the wrath of God, but by His grace, you never have to suffer it. You can continue to live an unfulfilled life, or surrender to the purpose to which you were called and Christ died. Grace enables you to live above your sin and not with it.
Have a blessed day!