Bible Reading: John 9:1-23
We are often quick to judge other people. We let our imagination run wild and assume that they are guilty…without even giving them a chance to defend themselves. The truth is, God is judge, not us. We should be the ones who are seeking to defend others, to come to their aid and assistance. If you were accused of doing something wrong…wouldn’t you want someone to defend you? Of course you would. Well, treat other people the way that you want to be treated.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
“Somebody’s guilty and they’re going to pay for this.” That’s what many people think when they hear about some bad, evil thing that has been done. And while it is true that a guilty person should be held responsible for what they have done, if we’re not careful…we get in such a hurry to prove that someone is guilty; or, we will have already decided who is guilty before all of the facts come in…that we just might find the wrong person to be guilty.
I went to High School in Arcadia, FL. Several years before I graduated a terrible, gruesome thing happened, there. On Oct. 25, 1967, Annie Mae Richardson got up and prepared lunch for her family. She was married to James and they had 7 children. Lunch was fried chicken for herself and James, and the children got rice and beans. Around 6:45 am, James and Annie Mae headed off to work picking oranges. The children stayed home with a babysitter named Bessie Reese. A short time later, the older children (Betty, 8, Alice, 7, and Susie, 6) headed off to school. The four younger children (Dorreen, 5, Vanessa, 4, Dianne, 3, and James Jr., 2) stayed with Reese. That afternoon, the foreman of the orange grove work crew showed up and told James that one of his children was sick and offered to drive him to the hospital. By the time that James and Annie Mae got to the hospital 6 of their children had died. The 7th died the next morning. Their teachers said that they had been fine in the morning…but became very ill that afternoon.
At first, the police had no idea what the children had died from. Then, the next day, they found a bag of parathion (a bug poison used in the orange groves) in a shed next to the house. Doctors tested the bodies of the children and discovered that they had died from parathion poisoning. After that, the Sheriff had a visit from an insurance salesman who told him that the night before the deaths of the children he had visited with James and tried to sell him a family group insurance policy. However, James didn’t have the money…only $1.40 for the plan. So, he didn’t buy it. But that was enough to convince the Sheriff that James had killed his own children and had him arrested.
At the trial, James was accused of murdering his children for the insurance money…even though he didn’t buy the policy. Some unreliable witnesses were brought forward, including some inmates who had been in jail with him, who claimed that he had admitted to them that he had killed the children. The trial lasted 5 days and ended on May 31, 1968. It took the jury only 90 minutes to find James guilty. He was sentenced to death in the electric chair. James was on death row for 4 years waiting for his execution. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the death penalty was unconstitutional and his sentence was changed to 25 years to life in prison.
It was in the 1980s that a strange thing happened. By this time, Bessie Reese, the babysitter, was in a nursing home and was suffering from Alzheimer’s (a disease that often causes people to have memory problems and to not realize what they are saying, or doing). Over a two-year period (1985-1987), nurses heard her say over 100 times, “I killed the children.” The trial was reopened. Investigators found out that Reese had been married two times before. The first husband had died in 1955, while eating a bowl of stew that she had made for him. Then, she shot and killed the second one because she claimed that he was going to harm her. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison…only served 4…and was out on parole when she was babysitting for the Richardson children. Then police discovered something. Shortly before the children died…Reese’s current husband, Eddie King, had gone to Jacksonville with James. There, he had met a cousin of James and decided to leave Reese and stay with the other woman. Reese blamed James that her husband had left her and became extremely angry with him. People who knew Reese said that she had a hot temper and they called her “Big Mama”. Now, with this new evidence, the trial was reviewed and was found to have been carried out in an improper manner. There was some even some evidence that would have possibly cleared James that had been intentionally hidden in the original trial. As a result, on April 25, 1989, a judge ruled that James was innocent and set his conviction aside. He was released from prison. He had been in prison for over 20 years…for something that he did not do.
The Sheriff, Judge, jury, and even townspeople knew that somebody had to be guilty for that terrible crime. So, they rushed to a conclusion. Procedure didn’t stop them. Evidence didn’t stop them. They had found their man…and he was going to pay. Oh, he paid, all right. But he wasn’t their man. He was innocent. An innocent man…had paid the price for someone else’s crime.
In the days of Jesus, just like when I was in High School, people could be quick to judge someone and even pass sentence on them if they thought that they had done something wrong. In fact, it was commonly thought, that if a person had something bad happen to them…it was because they had done something bad…and that was God’s way of punishing him. And, if it didn’t appear that the person had done something bad…then you start with his immediate family and work your way out until you find someone, who did. There was a cause and effect mentally. Every bad thing that happened to someone (effect)…had to have a bad cause.
Walking down a road, Jesus and His disciples passed by a man that had been blind from the day that he was born. Now, according to what I just told you, the disciples assumed that either he, or his parents, must have done something very bad and that this man had been born blind because it was God’s judgment on him. But Jesus refuted this idea. He said that it wasn’t true. He told them that this man’s blindness was not caused by his sin, or the sin of his parents. They would never know the real cause of his blindness. And anyway, that was none of their business. God didn’t make them this man’s judge. Jesus said that instead of looking for the cause of this man’s blindness…they should be looking for the cure. Jesus told them to not speculate about the cause of the man’s blindness…they would never know who was to blame for that. But, to celebrate the healing of the man’s blindness…because they knew exactly Who to thank for that! Jesus healed the man…and God was glorified.
Have you ever judged someone for something? Come on be honest about it. You heard that they had said this, or done that…and you immediately passed judgment. After all, they had said, or done, other things…or, so you had been told. And now, you just figured that if they had done that…they would do this. Guilty. God didn’t call us to be each other’s judges. He’s got that under control, Himself. But He has called us to be each other’s helpers. When someone is accused of doing something wrong…our first thought should not be, “What have they done?” But, “What can I do to help them?” Imagine what a different world we would live in if everyone started with that thought…”What can I do to help?” Isn’t that the way that you would want for people to treat you? Probably. So, let’s start a movement. Treat other people the way that you would want to be treated. Do it…even if they don’t treat you back that way. You don’t do it just so that they will do it for you. You do it because God has said that it’s the right thing to do. Oh, and by the way…God will be glorified. And when you glorify God…God blesses you. It’s a win/win. Let’s start a movement for God…today.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,