Seminary Donuts – An Analogy of the Atonement

May 17, 2011


The following story is about a seminary teacher and a powerful object lesson he taught his class one day. Seminary is a scripture study program for High School aged teenagers throughout the world run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Seminary Donuts

Brother Christianson taught Seminary. He had a open-door policy and would take in any student that had been throw out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other teacher wanted him, so he went to Brother Christianson’s class.

Steve was told that he could not be late, so he always arrived arrived on time but never more than just one second before the bell would ring. He would always sit in the very back of the room and was always the first to leave after class was over.

One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. After class, Brother Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, “you think you’re pretty tough, don’t you?’

Steve answer was “Yeah, I DO.”

Then Brother Christianson asked, “How many push-up can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”

“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Brother Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time before.”

“Do you think you could?” Brother Christianson again asked.

“Well, I can try, “ said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” Brother Christianson said.

Steve said “well… I think I can… yeah, I can do it.”

Brother 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. When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited, after all it was Friday, and this was the last class of the day. They were ready to get an early start on the weekend.

Brother Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want a donut?” Cynthia said, “Yes”

Brother Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, ”Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Cynthia can have a donut?”

Steve said “sure” and he jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Brother Christianson put a donut on Cynthia desk.

Brother Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked,”Joe do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes!” Brother Christianson asked, ”Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups. Joe got a donut.

And so it went down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut. He went down the second aisle, until Brother Christianson got to Scott.

Scott was captain of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When Brother Christianson asked, “Scott, do you want a donut?”

Scott’s reply was, “well, can I do my own push-ups?”

Brother Christianson said, “ NO, Steve has to do then,”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Brother Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”

Steve stared to do ten pushups, Scott said” HEY! I SAID I DIDN’T WANT ONE!”

Brother Christianson said, “Look, This is my class room, my desks and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by his time, Steve had begun to slow a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took to much effort to get up and down. You could see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Brother Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Brother Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, Do you want a donut?” Jenny said “NO.”

Then Brother Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten pushups. Jenny got a donut.

By now, the students were beginning to say “NO” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was beginning to put forth a lot of effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweet on the floor beneath his face, his arm and brow were beginning to get red from the physical effort involved.

Brother Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch Steve work for all those uneaten donuts. So Robert began to watch Steve closely. Brother Christianson started down the fourth row.

During his class some more students had wandered in and sat along the heaters along the side of the room. When Brother Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room. He started to get worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Brother Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Brother Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose tough on each one?”

Brother Christianson thought for a moment, “well, they’re your pushups. You can do then any way that you want.” And Brother Christianson went on.

A few minutes later, Jason came to the door and was about to come in the room when all the student yelled, “NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “ NO, let him come in.”

Brother Christianson said, “You realize if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him.”

Steve said, “Okay.”

And Brother Cristianson replied, “I’ll let you get Jason out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?” “Yes.”

Steve, will you do ten pushups so Jason can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, Bewildered was handed a donut and sat down.

Brother Christianson finish the fourth row, then started on those seating on the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift him self. By this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two girls were cheerleaders and very popular. Brother Christianson asked, “ Linda, do you want a donut?” Linda said very sadly, “no, thank you.”

Brother Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, Would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve very slowly did ten pushups for Linda. Linda got her donut.

Brother Christianson turned to the last girl, “Susan, do you want a donut?” Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, “Brother Christianson, Can I help him?”

Brother Christianson said with tears flowing down his own face, “No, he must do it all alone. Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve very slowly finished his very last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, after having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.


Brother Christianson then turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, after completing all that was required of him, Pleaded to the Father, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ Collapsed and died on the cross. And so many in the world, like us, leave this special gift on the desk, uneaten.”

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