Thursday, March 20, 2014

BAD NEWS (Luke Chapter 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 that 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 why he killed them, 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.

On any given day tragic things happen.  About two weeks ago a plane bound for China disappeared.  As of today no one knows for sure what happened.  The fate of the 239 souls on board is yet undetermined.  Last week the news reported on a fire that consumed a large building in New York City.  Eight people perished.  Such events are commonplace in this sin-cursed world.

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 up 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.  It was not that He oblivious to such matters, or uncaring, He had come to deal with a greater problem, a problem that underlies all of man’s problems and would 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 made it clear 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 he might die as a result 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 is 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 kinds of tragedies in the news, but nothing is more tragic than the death of an unrepentant sinner.

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