How do you respond when you hear of some grave and terrible tragedy that has taken place?
- Like 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by Islamic terrorists.
- Like a plane crash somewhere in the Indian Ocean without a trace.
- Like a drunk driver hitting a family as they drove to church, killing their youngest child.
How do you react?
- Do you shake your head in disbelief at the evil in this world?
- Do you silently reflect on God’s sovereignty?
- Do you pray for those directly involved in the calamity?
If you are like me, you might do all of these things at any given moment in response to some tragedy. But like me, you might find Jesus’ response to a similar question in Luke 13 confounding.
At that time, some people came and reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And He responded to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were more sinful than all Galileans because they suffered these things? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well! 4 Or those 18 that the tower in Siloam fell on and killed—do you think they were more sinful than all the people who live in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!”
In this chapter, we learn that very recently Pilate had murdered a few Galileans in the Jewish temple … truly a heinous and evil crime. Someone preumably asked Jesus to comment on this event, and to some, his response may have been more shocking than the crime itself.
- He didn’t denounce Pilate.
- He didn’t comment on the lives of those who were killed.
Instead, He encouraged those asking to look within: “Unless you repent, you, too, will perish.”
At first, this seems like an odd or insensitive response.
But in reality, it’s a very compassionate response, for it humbles all of us as it forces us to remember that death in some form awaits us. Only repentance by grace through faith in Christ rescues us.
So shake your head in disbelief at the evil in the world.
Reflect on God’s sovereignty.
Pray for those involved in calamities.
But also heed Jesus’ warning.