Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” – Luke 13:1-5
During the course of a lifetime, we will encounter pain and suffering. There will be illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death. These will cause us to ask the questions, “Why? Why me? Why now?”
In the face of these happenings, we should not blame God for our setbacks. Blame sin and the devil. God did not create sin. That came about through man’s rebellion against God.
In our text above, some people reminded Jesus of a calamity or tragedy which had taken place among the Galileans: Pilate’s soldiers had killed some people who were preparing to offer to a sacrifice. During the tragedy, their blood was mixed with the blood of their sacrifice.
The Jewish people superstitiously believed that when something bad happened to people, God was punishing them. Consequently, this unpleasant action by Pilate’s soldiers was God’s obvious punishment of the slain.
However, in the text, Jesus is saying no; when bad things happen to people, it does not necessarily mean that God is bringing judgment upon them. Scripture tells us that God “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.
God did not create evil, suffering and woe. We live in a terrible and sinful world. It is not God who does evil things; it is the evil in us that brings calamities and despair.
Jesus is pointing out that the evil things of our world are not calamities from God. However, he says that we should look at them and get our lives in order because we do not know when the Lord may call us away from this life.
In other words, don’t look at the things that are happening around you, look at your own life and serve God. Even though we tend to blame God for the bad which exists among us, He shields us against them. God gives us the strength and solace to cope with the evil in and around our communities.
When the calamities come our way, God protects us. The apostle assures us in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out, so that you can endure it.”
Satan would try to make us believe that God is at fault because he wants to turn us away from God. Therefore, don’t blame God when you see devastations from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wars and persecutions. Natural disasters happen and both good and bad people suffer.
Jesus explains that because a group of people was killed while making a sacrifice, and that 18 people died when the tower of Siloam fell on them, does not mean that they were more sinful than others. In the eyes of God, sin is sin. One group of sinners is no more sinful than another. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 130:3: “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?”
Remember, God does not will it that disaster come to us. Yet, amid our calamities, God is there with us. He gives us the strength and the courage to endure. He gives us hope and guides us in faith. Amen.
• Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.