Luke 13:1-5: “The Tragedies of Life”
“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5, NASB).
We live in an age where it seems that the majority of humanity lives in a fantasy world, especially when it comes to the idea and fact of bad things happening to them and that things do not always go the way we like. It was not that long ago in social history that we accepted the good and bad in life and dealt with the consequences, coming to the conclusion that we would learn from mistakes, errors, and unforeseen events and then plan, mature, develop, and live with the lessons these troubles would teach us. That seems to have gone by the wayside.
Now you cannot turn on the television, or internet, or social media and not witness groups of people who are angry and sullen that they not only have to face troubles and difficult times, but that they have to go through all of this in the first place. Many in today’s generation cannot or will not accept the fact that they are responsible for decisions made; that they will face hard times; that the world in general does not owe them a living; that they have to put on their “adult clothes” and get out of the “safe spaces”; drop the “trigger mechanisms”; deal with the reality that not everyone will agree with them on issues and policies; and that they cannot go home crying to their parents that life is not treating them fairly or as they expect.
The day we are born, life and its contents are waiting to determine if you are going to mature and stand amidst the storms, or wither and whine about every little thing to the point where you are an irritant to your peers and a pain in the backside in the development of a civil society. It seems that no one wants to buy property and reside in the city of Reality. Not only is this not healthy in our journey through life, but avoiding inevitable difficulties that come our way does not allow for spiritual, physical, and mental maturation. Constant adherence to this type of living negates and discourages original and critical thinking and relies on the dependence of the authorities to do the decision making and inevitable forced compliance of a foreign worldview, work, and purpose.
The avoidance of troubles, sicknesses, and personal setbacks has crept into the thinking of a lot of confessing Christians today. There are those who believe that they are not to undergo any sort of “suffering” or “poverty” or “lack of want” and that God will give them perfect health, access to riches, and a life free of adversity. This is the call of the prosperity gospel and the pimp “preachers” who sell this to the gullible and naïve by means of television, social media, and the internet.
We have whole groups who cling to the fantasy that God would never allow them to undergo any kind of difficulty because they see themselves as “blessed and highly favored,” or “born to be blessed,” or “destined to be a champion,” or whatever drivel the merchants of misinterpretation like to throw at the audience who see the Lord Jesus Christ as a type of “sugar daddy” ready to hand out the goodies.
I have dealt with this topic and its awful hold on people before, so I am not going to go over the same trail again. You know how a lot of this type of thought and belief ends. Tragedy or hardship comes along, and the “faith” of these folks goes away and never returns, leaving behind a path of unbelief, anger at God, and a hate for the name and ministry of Jesus Christ. They are the shallow soil spoken of in Jesus’ parable.
I have said all of this to point out that the idea of bad things happening to the people of God bothered people living in Jesus’ day. The tragedies written of in these passages in Luke’s Gospel will show us that it is not so much that bad and unexpected circumstances occur, but the condition of our souls if such things can and do happen to us.
Jesus has received a report from His fellow Galileans that Pilate had killed some of the group and mixed their blood with the blood of the ritual sacrifice. This was clearly murder on Pilate’s part and a mockery of the Jewish sacrificial system that had been given to the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt and described in detail in the Torah written by Moses. Pilate used this gruesome act as a way of showing Roman authority over the people and would not tolerate any dissent or opposition. Jesus acknowledged that what had occurred was tragic and wrong, but that was not the central issue. He emphasized that if and when such a situation occurs to them, they needed to have come before the LORD at some point in time and repented of their sins so that if their life was taken, they would be in the presence of God and not in hell.
We are always to be ready spiritually when tragedies and accidents occur. The Scriptures warn us that life is unpredictable and that our plans can go awry at any moment. Even as I write this article, there were people who got up to go to work or some other activity this morning, and now they are on a hospital gurney ready to be handed over to the funeral home. When I worked as a hospital chaplain and was called to the bedside of a patient who had just died, my first thought was almost always, “Where are they now?” Did they make their peace with God earlier in life or at the last breath? Did anyone tell them about Jesus during their life?
We remember where we were on September 11, 2001, when the Towers came crashing down in flames and the Pentagon was on fire, targets of terrorists. We heard about the bravery of the passengers fighting for control of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania and the final words of Todd Beamer, who told his fellow passengers, “Let’s roll” as they stormed the cabin and went to their deaths. Nobody who got up that morning and headed to those buildings or planes had any idea that, by noon, they would be gone from this earth and into eternity, some ready, some not.
There are those of you who remember January 28, 1986, watching the Space Shuttle Challenger going up into the sky with seven astronauts and an eager young teacher, and only a minute later saw the vessel explode on live television. Those noble souls had no idea it would be their final day of life, and as President Ronald Reagan tearfully told the nation that night, they had now “slipped the surly bonds of Earth and had touched the face of God,” ready or not.
Accidents happen, like it or not. Heartaches occur whether we have prepared for them or have been hit with them unexpectedly. I have experienced everything from broken bones to burying a child and surviving a hurricane in the past few decades. I never thought for a minute that I would be spared from seeing or going through difficulties, even if I was a child of God in Christ. Yes, we tend to question the event, get angry at God (He can take it.), wonder how this will all turn out, and how to rebuild one’s life with a new foundation in a new place.
We need to come to grips with the fact that we live in a sin-soaked fallen world of our own making because we chose to rebel against the rule and care of God Almighty, and we are paying for it.
It did not have to be this way, but our ancestors figured they could handle the situation without God, and doomed us to an eternity in hell were it not for the mercy, grace, and loving salvation offered to us by the Lord Jesus Christ by His willingness to die for our sins on the cross in that we may obtain the gift of eternal life in heaven free from sin and its aftermath forever.
The day is soon approaching when the Lord Jesus will come to get His people and then bring in a new heaven and earth free from the evil caused by the devil and his followers. Those loved ones who died in accidents, natural causes, or at the hands of evil people and who had made Jesus Christ Lord of their lives will be resurrected and made new, and we will be with them for all the ages. Tears will be wiped away, joy will return to the mourners, and we will be with the Lord always.
Why would you want to miss this coming wonderful age? Repent of your sins and surrender your life to Jesus Christ today. Too many people that have lived before us have found out too late that tomorrow was not going to arrive for them. I beg of you, settle your destiny NOW. He is waiting with open arms. Amen.