There were present at that season some who told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus, answering, said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were sinners above all men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:1-5
Many ask these days why God would allow such tragedies as the recent mass murders using guns, vehicles and other means. As a sinful human being with a very limited understanding of the ways of God, I will not presume to speak on His behalf and try, as some have done, to explain God's reasonings for permitting such wickedness and tragedies to occur. I will, however, let God speak for Himself if any care to listen.
In Isaiah 59:2-3, God says: "But your iniquities have come between and separated you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity. Your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has uttered perverseness" (read all of Isaiah 59).
Because our people have turned away from the LORD God and no longer listen to His Word, He leaves us to suffer the consequences of our sinful ways and to pay the price for the murder of millions of unborn children in the womb. Why should he continue to watch over us and protect us when we cast off His Word and rebel against his commandments!
In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus was told of certain Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Jesus asked, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were sinners above all men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish."
Applying Jesus' words to those who have been killed in recent shootings, bombings, vehicular homicides, knife attacks, etc., were these people worse sinners than others, including us, who have not yet suffered such tragedies? Jesus says, "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish."
In 2 Peter 3, the Bible speaks of God's final judgment upon this earth and we learn why it has not yet occurred. Verse 9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is patient toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
The recent events in our world could have just as well struck right here, at home. Stop and think about the possibilities. Why hasn't such a tragedy struck us? Why hasn't God permitted death to come suddenly upon us or our children? His answer: He "is patient toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Perhaps -- no, most definitely -- we ought to use the remaining time God has given us in this world to consider what He has told us in the Bible, repent of the evil in our lives and seek the forgiveness God offers us through the death and resurrection of His Son!
Jesus added this parable to His words: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit on it, and found none. Then he said to the dresser of his vineyard, 'Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down. Why does it encumber the ground?' And he, answering, said to him, 'Lord, leave it alone this year also until I dig about it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, fine. But if not, then after that you shall cut it down'" (Luke 13:6-9).
Our gracious God expects to find fruits of repentance in our lives too. If we are truly sorry for our sinful ways and trust in Christ Jesus for forgiveness, we will not just continue on in our old sinful ways but seek to live for Christ according to His Word. Jesus is patient with us and, by His Spirit, works to strengthen us in the faith and sanctify us so that we might live for Him. But ultimately, if we produce no fruit for Him, we, like the fruitless fig tree, will be cut down.
Jesus' words are a warning to us against false security -- thinking that all is well with our souls if we are baptized church members while we go our own way and live as we please rather than as God commands in His Word and as God's Spirit leads us. Unless we repent, we will be cut off and perish.
God is patient with us and desires that we all repent of our foolish and sinful ways and turn to Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for forgiveness and new life in Him. He is patient but one day that patience will run out and the day of the Lord will come upon us!
O dearest Jesus, forgive my foolishness and sin and teach me to walk in Your ways and live for You in accord with Your holy Word. Grant that I produce the fruits of true repentance in my life and be found to Your praise and glory. I ask this for the sake of Your holy and precious blood shed for the remission of my sins and the sins of the whole world. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted by email at [email protected] More of Moll's devotional writings may be freely read at https://goodshepherdonline.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]