In his first advent, Christ came to heal, not to judge; to save, not to condemn; to restore, not to destroy. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. For the Son of Man (Christ) has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 4: 18; 19: 10). He worked many healing miracles. In some of these miracles, he healed the human soul first from its sin wounds, before healing the sick body (Matthew 9: 2; Luke 7: 48; James 5: 15).
Christ wants to heal and restore and save all: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16); “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8); “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2: 3-4; Psalm 86: 15; Matthew 5: 43-46; 2 Peter 3: 9; Ephesians 2: 4; Jeremiah 31: 3). God is saddened when a sinner perishes: “. . . As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. . .” (Ezekiel 33: 11; 18: 23, 32; Luke 15: 2-32).
Jewish religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. They asked him whether they should stone her to death as the Law of Moses required. He responded saying: “… He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8: 7). Jesus wanted to save the penitent adulteress, not to condemn her to death and destruction. He wanted to heal her wounded soul and set her free from the bondage of sin, not to end her hope. After her accusers had left the scene, “… he said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”” (John 8: 10-12; 4: 1-26; Luke 7: 36-50). In forgiving the penitent adulteress, Jesus projected the exceeding love and mercy of the true living Biblical God. He wanted her to have a new beginning free from sin, and a new life of spiritual renewal and regeneration. He is the light of life.
The encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus is narrated in Luke 19: 1-10. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector in the city of Jericho, a major customs center at that time. A tax collector gained his income and enriched himself by extorting more money from the people than he had to pay the occupying Roman authority. That was why tax collectors were social outcasts whom people despised and looked down upon as big sinners collaborating with the hated occupying Roman authorities. They were ostracized because their work was considered dishonest and immoral. Jesus visited Zacchaeus in his house. Zacchaeus offered true repentance. "Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold”" (Luke 19: 8). Jesus did not judge and condemn Zacchaeus for his years of extortions, cheating and exploitations of people. Instead, Jesus healed Zacchaeus spiritually and declared: "... Today salvation has come to this house ..." (Luke 19: 9).
When Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss in the garden on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus did not condemn him for his betrayal. Instead, he reached out to him in friendship, saying: “…Friend, why have you come?...” (Matthew 26: 50). In his agony while dying on the cross, Jesus did not judge and condemn those who crucified him. Instead of cursing them, he prayed for their forgiveness, saying: “…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23: 34).
Jesus has taught us to follow his example. He said: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (Matthew 7: 1-5; Luke 6: 37). Jesus demands that we should not adopt a judgmental and censorious attitude. Condemnation of others is not consistent with loving and forgiving them. The love of the Biblical God is to be reflected in the life of Christians. Christ instructed saying: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35). “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13: 13).
The standard by which we judge is that by which we will be judged. The mercy we give will be the mercy we receive. To criticize and pass judgment on others is to attempt to usurp a prerogative of God alone. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another” (James 4: 12; 2: 13). This is the authority and place of the sovereign God alone. We cannot judge the other justly because we do not know all the facts about his background, his motivations, his sufferings, his culture, etc. Only God knows all the facts. Therefore, only God is able to judge justly. His judgment is based on truth. This is not to rule out civil courts and judges. Instead, it is to root out the unkind critical spirit that continually finds fault with others. Quite often we are doing the very same things we condemn in others. "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things" (Romans 2: 1).
We condemn sin, not the sinner. We do not judge the sinner. We love him, and pray for his repentance and salvation. "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Galatians 6: 1; 1 John 5: 16). On the other hand, the Church has the right and the obligation to condemn heretical teachings, and excommunicate heretics and immoralists in order to protect the Christian community at large from stumbling and corruption, keeping in mind that the door of repentance and restoration is wide open for those who repent (1 Corinthians 5: 1-8; 1 Timothy 6: 3-5).