We just heard about the tragic death of many people when an earthquake hit the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains. Today we are also remembering the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. When tragedies like this hit, we ask the question why did these tragedies happen?
In Luke 13:1-5, we see a conversation between Jesus and some Jews. They asked Jesus how Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, had killed some Galileans and mixed their blood with their sacrifices in Jerusalem (13:1). At this time Jesus took the opportunity to answer at least part of the question, “why did those Galileans suffer and not others?” Jesus explained that the tragedy did not mean that the Galileans suffered become they were worse sinners than others. Jesus also mentions another tragedy that possibly happened during his time about a tower that fell and killed eighteen people; and he gave them the same conclusion: all these people did not die because they were the worst sinners. No, they did not die because they deserved to die more than others. Yes, the scripture talks about the law of sowing and reaping (Gal 6:7) and that sin will have its consequences, but it will be dangerous to draw a correlation between a tragedy and specific sin.
From here in Luke 13, Jesus reminds us that God’s judgement is coming for everyone. He says, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (13:3) and repeat the same, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (13:5). When Jesus repeats something, we better listen. He said, something forever worse and eternally damaging is coming for all those who do not repent and remain in sin. A tragedy worse than 9/11, worse than the holocaust, worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, worse than anything we have seen in human history is coming for those who do not repent. This puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? We don’t want any of our loved ones to be there.