Some years ago, some people came up to Jesus and asked him about cause and effect. They were wondering if the people who had died in a recent building collapse were worse sinners than those who died a natural death.
Jesus’ response played down the manner of the physical death and drew attention to the state of the questioner’s hearts. If you don’t repent, he said, then you also will die in like manner.
13 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
In another incident Jesus’ disciples ask him about a man that had been born blind. Again they were wondering about cause and effect. Was this man the sinner or his parents that he was born blind? In this case Jesus said neither but that he had been born that way to glorify God. He then healed him.
9 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
In both cases Jesus repudiates the idea that there is a direct link between a man’s (or woman’s) circumstances and his (or her) sin. This is one of the main reasons Jesus also tells us not to judge.
Sometimes there is a link between a person’s lifestyle and an early death or a sickness or condition. Man’s heart so easily judges in those circumstances. One of the main reasons Jesus confounded the religious people of his day was because he was happy to be in the company of such people, sinners. He saw a bigger picture and knew that the hearts of the ones who had fallen into various immoral or harmful lifestyles were more humble than the ones who prided themselves in not having lived that way.
Very often the only difference between a self-righteous, judgmental person and someone who regularly sins in some other more publicly obvious way is that the latter knows he needs a saviour whereas the former doesn’t.
Very often that was the only difference that needed addressing as far as Jesus was concerned.
39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.