Bible Reading: Luke 13
Luke 13:1-5, “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this say? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’”
Just as in our day, there was bad news in Jesus’ day. There was no newspaper to publish it, but the news of Pilate’s heinous act had spread. Pilate mingled the blood of Galileans he killed with the sacrifices they had brought. Though we are not given, the specific reason, it’s safe to assume that they were involved in some kind of rebellion. Pilate’s hold on that remote territory was tenuous and rebellious activity was met with horrendous brutality. The event was reported to Jesus. His response was other than what they might have expected.
As much as any of us would prefer a trouble-free existence here on earth, that will never be. As Jesus Himself warned, “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). On any day, bad things happen. A major earthquake in Turkey. A train derailment in Ohio. So many dead in the Ukrainian conflict! We hear all kinds of bad news. It can be quite disheartening. Sometimes tragedies hit close to home, and the grief in such instances unbearable.
In Jesus’ response to the news of the Galileans, He spoke of another bad news situation. A tower in Siloam fell and killed eighteen people. It is interesting to consider what Jesus didn’t say or do regarding these two events. He did not suggest that the people rise in rebellion against Pilate for his wicked deed. Nor did He suggest the institution of a “Building Codes” department to oversee the construction of new towers. Not that He was oblivious or unsympathetic, He had come to deal with a greater problem, a problem that underlies all of man’s problems and would work to threaten our souls with infinite and eternal loss.
Jesus corrected a common erroneous assumption that supposes that bad things happen to bad people. So, the people thought, but Jesus clarified that the Galileans did not suffer because they were worse sinners than all the other Galileans and the eighteen did not die because they were worse offenders than all the other residents of Jerusalem. Bad things happen in this world. No one is exempt. According to statistics, one out of one people die. A person might die of natural causes, or die because of some tragedy, but—unless the rapture happens first—all will die sometime, somehow.
The Galileans were all sinners. And so were the residents of Jerusalem. So are we all (Romans 3:23). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Because of sin we are all doomed to perish, not just physically, but eternally. Physical harm and death are to be avoided, but there is another kind of death of which is of far greater concern. Jesus was warning his listeners of that death. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He came to give His life to deal with sin that He might rescue the perishing.
Jesus called upon the people to repent. They were lost in sin. Their hearts were unbelieving. Their eternal destiny hung in the balance. Salvation was at hand. There are no guarantees in this life—as was demonstrated in the two tragedies—but Jesus promises eternal life to those who place their faith in Him. There is a lesson for us in the bad news we hear. Sin is at the heart of all of man’s problems. Jesus is the only solution. We hear of lots of different tragedies in the news, but nothing is more tragic than the death of an unrepentant sinner.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” – John 3:36
Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful,
Jesus will save.