But the other criminal rebuked him, "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
Children are notorious for dodging blame when an action committed could get them into trouble with their parents or another authority figure. Bil Keane, creator of the timeless comic strip, "Family Circus", knew this well when he drew the "Not Me" gremlin anytime of the kids made a mess or caused chaos in Mom and Dad's otherwise orderly environment. In the 1990s, Bart Simpson would carry the "Not Me" syndrome to unparalleled heights with his culturally popular phrase, "I didn't do it!". This was made all the more egregious by the fact that viewers actually saw him do it and then heard his denial. While both scenarios evoke chuckles from us as we recall times in our childhoods when "Not Me" reigned supreme, we know that in raising our children to be responsible adults, we must teach them to view their shortcomings honestly, to admit their mistakes, and accept the consequences their actions engender.
We are not told the unlawful acts committed by the two criminals who flank Jesus on either side of His cross, but we can glean something of their characters. While one chooses, even with his last breath approaching, to join in with his own tormentors to mock Jesus, the other recognizes that their punishments are deserved in light of their deeds and accepts the inevitability of his fate. He has sinned and he is not reluctant to own up to it. He reveals his belief in Jesus as the Messiah who came to save sinners like he when he asks the Lord to remember hism when He comes into His kingdom. Jesus responds, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise". (Luke 23:43)
Are you living with children or grandchildren who are going through the "Not Me" stage? Are you modeling how to admit to mistakes, how to apologize, how to accept blame graciously? Help them understand that admitting their sin doesn't make them bad persons; it opens the door to forgiveness from a loving and merciful God. What could be better than that?
Psalms 137:1-6 (7-9), 144 or 104
1 Samuel 14:16-30
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