The mantra, ‘I did nothing wrong’ has been on the lips of certain prominent individuals in recent months.
Dario Grady, long-term manager of Crewe Alexandra Football Club, suspended while allegations of child abuse decades ago when he was coach at Chelsea are investigated, has proclaimed, ‘I did nothing wrong’.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, facing questions about a mysterious package delivered to his training headquarters ,has protested, ‘I did nothing wrong’
Jeff Sessions, the newly-appointed Attorney-General in the United States, has been forced to step aside, amid allegations of contact with the Russian ambassador, but insists ‘I did nothing wrong’.
Arlene Foster, our erstwhile First Minister, refused to step aside while claims about the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme swirled around her head, also protested ‘I did nothing wrong’.
The question in all the cases I have mentioned may not concern wrongdoing, but lack of competence, or wisdom, or compassion.
That plea, ‘I did nothing wrong’ is one used by many to suggest that they should therefore be acceptable to God. Jesus of Nazareth would beg to differ. In one of his most memorable parables, he told of a traveller, attacked while on a journey. As the traveller was left lying injured on the road, two figures in the religious world walked passed, and studiously avoided going to help him.
They may have had good reason to do so; perhaps they were afraid of being lured into an ambush, or becoming ritually unclean by contact with a dead body, and therefore unable to discharge the religious duties towards which they were hastening. Clearly, Jesus did not approve of their inaction; rather the hero of his story was the Good Samaritan, the man who stopped to help, at great risk and expense to himself. The others had done nothing wrong, but they had failed to do good. Read the story in Luke 10:25-37
In Jesus’ picture of the final judgment, the folk who are punished are those who , while they may not have been guilty of wrongdoing, nevertheless failed to do good. ‘I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me’(Matthew 25; 42,43).
As we face a final judgment, our hope is not in pleading,’ But I did nothing wrong.’ Our hope is in the One who did no wrong, Jesus. He died, ‘the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God ‘( I Peter 3;18). He is the One who alone makes us acceptable to God.