When something goes terribly wrong within an organisation, as it did in the South Yorkshire police in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, it is usually the leaders who are held responsible.
The assumption, often correct, is that the fault lies with those in power and not with the regular rank and file.
I remember an episode of the 1970s TV series Colditz where the opposite was true. The British officer was unaware that his men had violated the rules, and indeed had specifically ordered them not to. Despite his innocence, when it came to apportioning blame he stepped forward – ‘an officer is responsible for the actions of his men’ he told the German commandant.
Jesus often claimed for himself the title ‘Son of Man’. He came to our world, not just as a human being, but as THE human being. He took on himself the responsibility for all our faults and failings, and for that he died on the cross. At the heart of the Christian message is this sacrificial act – Jesus bore the blame so that we could be set free.
The Rev PAUL COCKBURN
London Road Methodist Church, Horsham
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