A story is recorded in John 9 about Jesus disciples citing a man’s blindness as condemnation for his personal or ancestral sin: And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Why does Jesus insert the idea of working during ‘day not night’ when that conversation has nothing to do with light or darkness? But we will get back to this question further along.
In that scenario, the disciple taught us that we can diagnose people’s character and pronounce condemnation, but have no will to help or extricate these people from their situation or condition.
The condemnation instinct
Whether a person is cursed from historical or generational sins or personal immoral behaviour, we have a higher duty than condemnation. Condemnation is something we do by default – automatically draw distinctions between people in our communities – those that are good and the bad ones. Besides, we all know of someone who is not necessarily welcome to our homes. We will be glad to give them a bottle of water and send them on their way. Those are individuals reeking of liquor, curses at the drop of a hat, and the wife-beaters. God forbid if that individual is a child molester, a rapist, or an ex-con. I am not referring to the attitude of non-Christians to unconverted souls; I am speaking of the dispositions of the saved to the loss, and the spirit-filled to those who are still entrapped in sin. I am pointing to the attitude of the redeemed to those who still need redemption.
Worse still, in many of our neighbourhoods, we know some family that we believe have reached beyond redemption: Criminals frequent their household. They are often disrespectful, offensive, and loud. Their children are often on drugs, they smoke, the husband or father is alcoholic or is in jail. Some of the young ladies engage in prostitution. These are homes where gambling is common. And many ‘good Christians’ frown upon those hideous families. Forty years ago, we had such a household in our small area. Christian parents did not want their children anywhere near those people kids. Most of us Christians saw them as the house of evil. But get this; forty years later, some of them are the prominent members and officers of the church in the same community that had already condemned them to hell.
But have you notice that those are the very people with which Jesus kept company.
To see the condemned, check the mirror
Remember, the same disciples who were so focused on the blind man’s sins were no angels themselves. And even after they had been with Jesus for years, they still committed grave transgressions: Thomas was a doubter; Peter was impetuous, a denier and liar. And they all deserted the Saviour. As human, my attitude must be, chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed his blood for me.
Did you realize that the disciples cared more about the man’s sin or causes of the man’s sin than they were concerned with his salvation or need?
Condemn to hell or invite to heaven
Every need or weakness that a person manifests is an opportunity for the work of God to be done. Jesus is looking for expertise in identifying people who are in deepest need of salvation. That is who he is and what he wants us to be: Agents of salvation not condemnation.
He recognized that need in the woman-at-the-well whose life was plagued with fornication and adultery. He gave her a way out and promised her a spring of living water that will never run dry.
He recognised that need in a prostitute who was actually found naked with a man on top of her, possibly, and the witnesses saw everything in plain view as if they were watching pornography. They captured and brought her to Jesus. But Jesus in abounding desire to save, said neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.
The condemned, Jesus’ loyal friends
Mark 2:15-17, While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. (16) When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
The condemned, our best chance of saving someone
I wonder if people can ask this question of today’s Christians – Why are they engaging thugs, criminals, and vagrants? However, the answer to that question the Pharisees ask Jesus, is that same reason he inserted the notion of working during ‘day not night’ in the John 9 conversation with his disciples.
It is about the opportunity to save people. The notion of working while it is day does not refer to daylight time. It is connected to using the opportune time to save people. Any situation that provides an opening to present the word of salvation is considered daylight. Therefore, eating with people who are the most sinful presents the best chance of saving souls. Working ‘during day and not night’ means working in optimum opportunity.
The greater the sinner, the greater the opportunity to save. Paul says, “where sin abounds, grace abounds even greater.” That is why Jesus made friends with three prostitutes and Zacchaeus, a tax collecting thief.
Condemning people to heaven
Condemnation is steeped in our genes. So, why not use it for good? Maybe we could condemn people to heaven instead of hell. When we see sinners, let us view them as candidates for heaven. Because that is how Jesus the Messiah sees them – candidates for his kingdom. He said, neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. The worse person you know may be your biggest opportunity to save a soul. When such an opportunity knocks, there is no telling what could happen. We are called to fish for men, not to choose them! Jesus is calling us today not to condemn people to hell but to invite them to heaven.