Yesterday I was back in an airport, looking forward to a visit with our son Hans and his family in north England. Arriving early, I bought a McDonalds salad, then settled in at my gate for lunch.
Most of the 200 chairs in the waiting area were empty since a crowd had just boarded, and the two women at the desk were closing up shop. Suddenly the ramp door burst open, and a 20-something guy rushed out, loping in my direction. I looked up, fork in hand, and watched him run past 10 rows of empty seats directly up to me, a security man trailing him.
Not sure what was happening, I took hold of my salad and got ready to jump. “You’re in my seat!” he said, panting with emotion. Surrounded by a room full of empty chairs, I found that hard to believe. “Are you sitting on it?” he said.
Thinking about Caesar dressing going all over my traveling clothes I said, “On what?”
“My phone!” he said. “Under you!”
By now the security guard had arrived and the young man, conflicted between the urgency to find his phone, his plane about to leave, and the security guy, bent down and began feeling around on the floor beneath me. I stood, trying to hang onto my salad, wondering if maybe he was right.
As the two women at the desk were on their way over, I was relieved to see I hadn’t been sitting on anything, but he was disappointed. “Oh never mind!” he said in frustration, pushing past the guard and the women toward his flight.
A minute later I watched his plane push back from the gate and wondered if he was looking at me through the window, thinking his phone was in my purse. The bottom line was that he’d accused me of something I didn’t do. Not that he had come right out and said it, but I’m sure he thought it.
The ultimate in being wrongly accused was Jesus. Labeled as a blasphemer against the one true God, his accusers couldn’t have been more off the mark. That same God was his beloved Father, the one sustaining him through life as a human. Jesus loved him intensely and obeyed his every command with perfection, all the way through to an undeserved death.
How must Jesus have felt to be wrongly accused of something contrary to everything he stood for and the essence of who he was? When the young man accused me of sitting on his phone, I wondered if maybe he was right. Jesus, though, never wondered about his innocence. Even after being arrested, accused and beaten, he was still sure of his innocence.
We humans are riddled with real reasons to feel guilty in many categories, yet when accused, we rush to defend ourselves, sometimes stretching what little truth is in us to make our point. Jesus knew he was blameless, responding to his accusers with the silence of certainty.
Of course none of us can be as untarnished as Jesus, but the more we make the difficult choices to reject sinful possibilities, the more we can enjoy the good feeling of guiltlessness, as well as finding it easier to tell the truth.
I am confident of one thing, though. If that young man calls his cell phone and someone answers, it won’t be me.
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18)