There were present at that season some who told Him about
the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 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? I tell you, no; 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 sinners than all other men who
dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all
likewise perish.” – Luke 13:1-5
I debated with the Lord when He pointed out this scripture
to me this morning, because I knew exactly what it referred to. This is a tough
bit of scripture and a very hard truth to swallow. It does not thrill me that many will not be pleased by this, but the truth of the Word of God must be exalted.
When tragedy or calamity strikes we always say things like, “keep those families and those
injured in our prayers,” “remember the victims and their families in our
prayers,” or “be with the victims and the families.”
Those are compassionate responses, but what substance is
behind them? That question won’t sit well with some of you, but the response of
Jesus probably wouldn’t either. In fact, to many, Jesus’ response seems
downright cold, yet it is the most gracious and loving response that could
possibly be given.
You see, when tragedy, which has become all too common in
our world of late, strikes, we suck in our breath, feel an ache and maybe even
a little bit of fear. Some immediately wonder why God would allow such a thing
to happen. We might wonder if they were saved. We may wonder if those who died
or were wounded were being judged by God. There is little doubt that those
thoughts were on the minds of those gathered around Jesus. Jesus’ response
answered those questions directly. Paraphrasing, He said:
“Do you think these were greater sinners than all others?”
Do you really think that God judged these people because
they were greater sinners than all others? It would be arrogant to think such a
thing, because there were probably regenerate Christians among those who died
or were wounded in Las Vegas. Did God pour out His wrath upon those people
because of their sins? Of course not! Nobody should even suggest such a thing,
in word or thought, and those who do should be rebuked by the very same question
and subsequent answer of Jesus.
“I tell you, no.”
The depth of a person’s sin does not determine the means by
which he or she dies. It is not our individual sins which are being punished in
our bodily death. The fact of the matter is that we live in a fallen world that
is full of evil. Because of the fall of man and original sin, evil men do evil
things. For purposes unknown to us, God draws back His protective hand for a
moment and the evil of the world is allowed to have its time. In every case,
His allowing evil to have its moment has a redemptive purpose. Does that sound
a little hard to swallow? Look at Jesus’ response:
“Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
There isn’t a lot of warmth and comfort in that statement
either, is there? Look at it more carefully. As you look at it, keep in mind
that Jesus had and still has a singular purpose and that is to bring about the
salvation of His lost sheep. His greatest desire for His lost sheep is that
they repent of their sins and come to Him. The hard truth, which Jesus spoke
with great clarity, is that unless you repent, you will likewise perish.
Now, does that mean that we will have our blood mixed with
our sacrifices or a tower will fall down on us? Certainly not! So, what does
Jesus mean by the word “likewise?” What He means is this:
“If you do not repent, then you will perish in your sins.”
Jesus was telling those around Him that this tragedy was an
opportunity for those who were still alive to repent before they died. This is
a very loving, gracious and sobering statement and it needs to be applied to
our lives every time we see tragedy and calamity strike people anywhere in the
world. This warning is far more substantial than, “be with the victims and
Our prayers should be with these people, but our prayers
need to have substance behind them. Our prayers need to reflect that singular
focus of Jesus for the redemption of His lost sheep. Our prayers need to be
about healing the greater wound of unrepentant sin in the lives of those most
directly effected as well as the lives of every single living person who
witnesses the aftermath of whatever tragedy or calamity has come.
Jesus did not finish His statement concerning sin and
repentance of those from Galilee and the Tower of Siloam at that point, but He also told a parable to help clarify His point.
Here is the parable:
“A certain man had a fig tree planted in
his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said
to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit
on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But
he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig
around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But
if not, after that you can cut it down.’”
The point is clear. Those who do not bear fruit deserve to
be cut down. That is God’s justifiable right as God. We cannot question that
righteous judgment of God. Instead of looking at God’s judgment in these tragic
situations, we need to seek His mercy. We who have not been cut down have a
little while longer to come to repentance and produce fruit.
Because we have a little while longer, we ought to be
grateful for God’s mercy, offer up thanksgiving and humble ourselves before
Him. We ought to put down our arrogance and recognize that because Jesus gave
Himself that we might be redeemed, He is worthy to be exalted above heaven and
earth. Colossians 1:13-14 says:
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and
conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in
whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
This is the greater purpose of Jesus. It is for our
redemption that He gave His blood, purchasing our forgiveness of sins. We are
in the light because He has delivered us into the light. By His Word we come to
repent of our sins and are fitted for His kingdom.
In the tragedy of Las Vegas and every tragedy or calamity
which has been and is yet to come, we are given a warning and another opportunity
to recognize that those who will not repent of their sins and be taken into the
fold of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, they will perish in their sins. This reality
ought to stir us not only to prayer, but to bearing witness of our Lord and
preaching His Word to the lost sheep. It is a time for us to refocus on
humbling ourselves and exalting Jesus so that others will know of His great
mercy and come to Him.
Lord Jesus, quicken the hearts of your servants that they
might bear witness of your mercy and grace as they look upon the tragedy in Las
Vegas and other such events throughout the world. Make them light bearers in
thought, word and deed to those who are yet bound to perish in their sins.
Visit those who yet remain with an understanding that they are yet given an
opportunity to repent of their sins and be redeemed by your precious blood. Bring
them to their knees so that they may believe in you and exalt you in their
lives. Let your name continue to be exalted above every other name in heaven
and earth until you return to our fallen world in glory. Amen.
For further study: Philippians 2:5-16 CHALLENGE: Set aside the first and last hours of your day to magnify the Lord. Meditate on the Word of the Lord and humble yourself to allowing its truth to become your new attitude.
Salmo 46 Para más estudio: Romanos 11:25-36 DESAFÍO: Aparte las primeras y últimas horas de tu día para magnificar al Señor. Medita en la Palabra del Señor y humilla a permitir que su verdad se convierta en tu nueva actitud. Lectura nocturna: Juan 1
Nota: Para aquellos que son nuevos en el sitio, bienvenidos, que el Señor los bendiga junto con aquellos que están orando a través de estos Salmos. Estos vínculos no son una inmersión rápida en la Palabra de Dios, sino que están destinados a suscitar la oración dentro de ustedes mientras meditan en la Palabra de Dios. Bendito el que viene en el nombre del Señor.
Note: For those who are new to the site, welcome, may the Lord bless you along with those who are praying through these Psalms. These links are not a quick dip in the Word of God, but are intended to stir up prayer within you as you meditate on God's word. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.