Whose Fault Is It, Anyway?

Sunrise on Camelback mtn. St. Barnabas in the background

Sunrise on Camelback mountain. St. Barnabas in the background

The question of fault, when honestly and openly asked, tends not to go away. It has a way of leading to the Ultimate Mystery. In a sense, blame is the quick and easy answer to the question, “Whose fault is this?”

In our last post we looked at Luke’s story of Martha blaming Mary and Jesus for her distress (Luke 10:38-42). There’s another story in the Gospel of John in which Martha blames Jesus. This time Mary joins her. Martha’s and Mary’s brother Lazarus has died, and both Martha and Mary confront Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died” (This is a powerful story in which Jesus weeps. Hopefully you can take a few minutes to read it: John 11:1-44).

Jesus replies with one of the profoundest revelations in Scripture: “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes into me and dies shall live, and all who live and believe into me shall not die into forever. Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:25-26)

Jesus’ question asks:

Will you now accept your power and response-ability
for your eternity and your present?
Will you move beyond blame and fault into wellness,
abundant Life, now and forever?”

Inherent in Jesus’ reply is God taking responsibility for the human situation. For me this is the model. Jesus’ Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Infusion of the Spirit into all humanity (see the circle of the church year) is God’s way of saying, “I made all things, and I am making all things well.” The only remaining question: will we join God in this infinite Goodness of All Things becoming well, or will we remain stuck in fault and blame?

Luke’s words of Jesus from the cross offer another insight into God, the Ultimate Mystery, taking responsibility for the world God made: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). It is as though Jesus’s cross is God saying, “Place your blame on me. I remove it all.”

tm2IMG_4642Ordinary Life Extraordinarily Lived infuses and propels us with hope. We are empowered to move beyond blame and fault (place it all on God if you need to); we are invited to see our life as an opportunity to embrace Life. Then to see every moment as the privilege of being and becoming. Every moment and circumstance becomes an opportunity for Goodness, Beauty, Truth, and Love. No blame, only the opportunity to grow, to become, to celebrate, to co-create.

As one friend recently said, “If I am not the problem, there is no solution.”


Please remember to engage. (= tell God your response and listen for God’s response to you). [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for reading and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

Grace and Peace,


More to come …

About jclark

The Rev. Jim Clark is the Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona.


  1. What a wonderful, inspirational photo from Camelback Mountain, Jim! Particularly appropriate for a reflection on seeing things from a different perspective.

  2. Elizabeth Garas says:

    (As I meditated upon the John 11:1-44 scriptures, the words “glad” and “glory” attracted my attention). Yet another perspective………….

    In John 11, the public ministry of Jesus was over, and He begins to minister to His own disciples, and those who loved Him. In John 11:3, Martha said, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick”. It’s a tender, humble beautiful and simple message. It doesn’t even ask the Lord to do anything. It’s a surrender of love.

    While Jesus shared a divine love for everyone, there were certain ones for whom He had a warm human affection (phileo love). He loved the physical companionship of Lazarus–man to man. In verse 35 we see this love where it says “Jesus wept”. Others noticed, as it says in verse 36—“…then said the Jews, Behold…how He loved Him”. ( Some say that He wept also over the deadly and incessant effects of sin in a fallen world). But the bigger picture is stated in verse 4 where Jesus said “This sickness is not unto death but for the GLORY of God that the Son might be Glorified by it”.

    John 11:5 states “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”. So when He was told that Lazarus sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (Divine love wasn’t in a hurry at all. God’s ways are distinctively and consistently different from ours!). Later, in John 14, Jesus said to His disciples, “Lazarus is dead. And I am GLAD for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to Him”.

    In John 11:21, 22, Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give to You”. I don’t hear blame in her comment, but instead hear a testimony of her faith in Jesus and His Power. In John 11:23, Jesus responded “Your brother will rise again”. After Martha said to Him in John 1:24, “I know that He will rise again in the resurrection at the last day”, Jesus continued to prepare her for what was to come by saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

    Martha answered , “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, Who is to come into the world.” Throughout these passages, I see Jesus lovingly preparing his disciples and those whom He loved for what was soon to come—His Death and Resurrection. Through the climactic miracle that Jesus performed by raising Lazarus from death, Jesus not only creates new life, but also brings Glory to God by pointing to the deity of Christ, strengthens the faith of the disciples, making them more effective witnesses, and leads them (and us) directly to the Cross which was the great climax of the life Christ (where He verified His Power over death).

    My response is one of gratefulness for the Scriptures that no only reveal the purposes of God illustrated through Christ’s Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Infusion of the Holy Spirit into all humanity, but also invite us to trust Him, and to surrender our lives with gladness of heart, to His Service and to His Glory.

  3. Elizabeth Garas says:

    In response to the good life message you present regarding “blame”…..yes, Father Jim, blaming others (even and especially when we aren’t at fault) not only saps our strength and energy, but it prevents us from maturing into all that God has prepared for us. How much better it is for everyone involved to instead concentrate upon the lessons that can be learned from any given situation and continue forth to apply this greater wisdom in our future walk with Christ. We do have the “ability” to “respond” in this positive manner and not “react” negatively. We just need to claim it and make it our practice. Love (and forgive) others as we love(and forgive) ourselves. Thank you for this good reminder…..

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