The message of Jesus is clear

By Andrew Packer
Special to The PREVIEW
“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 way? 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.’” (Luke 13:1-5).
The mixing of the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices was a heinous crime. This would have occurred at a Passover celebration. Pilate violated all the holiness codes by sending his troops into the temple area to murder Galilean Jews while they were slaughtering their lambs for the Passover Seder.
During this holy feast the blood of these Jews was mixed with the blood of the Lamb. To understand how shocking and sacrilegious this was, think of the modern-day example of that priest in France who was killed during the service of the Lord’s Supper.
It’s possible that they wanted Jesus to rebuke Pilate or advocate for overthrowing the government. Instead, Jesus speaks of the sins of the Jews — and not just those murdered, but all of them.
Jesus teaches them that there is not necessarily a one-to-one correlation between sin and sufferings. Those Galileans were no more sinners than the other Galileans. The tragedy cannot be tied to specific or exceptional sins.
The same thing is true of the 18 who died in a tragedy of natural causes.
The tragedy was not a sign of judgment against particular sins, but against all sinful humankind. Those who died were not worse offenders or worse debtors than anyone else.
The message of Jesus is clear: All must repent and believe. Otherwise, all will perish; that is, go to hell.
Jesus calls us to examine ourselves and our sin. Not the sins of others.
Jesus teaches us that our reaction to such events must not be, “Well, they deserved it!”
Rather, our reaction to these types of events ought to be, “I deserve the same! God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Look for mercy in the only place we have it — our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so, we also cry out, “Thanks be to God that Jesus perished on behalf of me and all sinners.”
May God use such events to keep us in the one true faith. Amen.

This story was posted on May 24, 2018.