Question… Do you think those who are suffering in the world today are bad people or because they’re worse than others? Ooopsss… This is not a good question to ask especially to those who are suffering!
Jesus asked the same rhetorical question in reverse order. Do you think these people were worse sinners than others because of the bad thing that happened to them?
1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 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? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
What are these 2 incidents mentioned in the passage:
1) v. 1 Galileans massacre: Pilate killed Galileans offering sacrifices in the temple.
“Neither Scripture nor secular history gives any more details regarding this massacre, but it is likely that the Galileans, visiting Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, had been caught up in a nationalistic fervor and started a commotion on the temple mount. The Roman governor Pilate quickly and violently quelled the disturbance, killing the Galileans along with their sacrificial animals, perhaps as a public demonstration of how violators must “atone” for their “sins” against Rome.” (taken from https://www.gotquestions.org/Galileans-in-the-Bible.html)
2) v. 4 Tower of Siloam tragedy:
“The fall of the tower of Siloam is not mentioned in other historical records, and, since the Bible gives no more detail of the structure’s collapse, we cannot be sure what the tower was for or why it fell. The tragedy was obviously well-known to Jesus’ hearers. Siloam was an area just outside the walls of Jerusalem on the southeast side of the city. The tower of Siloam may have been part of an aqueduct system or a construction project that Pilate had begun. In any case, the tower fell, and eighteen people were killed in the catastrophe.”
V. 1 tells us that some people told Jesus of the incident of the Galileans killed by Pilate. Who were these people? Why did they tell Jesus of the incident? Because Jesus in the previous chapter, in Luke 12:54-59 criticised them for being hypocrites and judging others. Jesus was teaching them not to judge others but be reconciled to each other.
Jesus knew what these people were thinking. They thought these Galileans were killed because it’s their due punishment for revolting. Jesus used another current event – the fall of the tower of Siloam to illustrate their idea of suffering. People die or suffer because they were more guilty than others (v.4).
Jesus used these current events to stress an important lesson: Repent or perish. All sinners need to turn to God. All have sinned. (Romans 3:23)
Today, the world is suffering. There is physical death. There is also moral decay. Bad people do bad things that cause suffering to others. While it is true that sin causes much suffering, it is also a reality that seemingly, ‘good’ people suffer not because they did something bad. Job is one such example of ‘good’ Biblical heroes who suffered. Joseph and David also suffered.
Bottom line: Jesus negates 4 assumptions people make about suffering. It is not true that…
1) Suffering is proportional to sinfulness.
2) Tragedy is a sure sign of God’s judgment.
3) Bad things happen only to bad people.
4) We have the right to make such judgments.
When we see people suffering, we need to resist judging them. We cannot say they must be guilty of something, as if God is punishing them. Rather Jesus calls for self-evaluation. Look within oneself and take it as a warning to repent. The suffering of someone is not cause for blame but for self-examination.
Whether a person is American, Chinese, Filipino or not, from Galilee or from Georgia, rich or poor, young or old, sick or healthy, educated or not, whether he thinks he’s good or bad, the fact is all people are under God’s judgement unless they repent – turn to Jesus in faith. To repent is turn away from sin.. a change of mind to sin no longer and show this change in action.
Do you believe Jesus, my friend? Read the Bible and know Jesus. Turn to Jesus. Turn or burn. Repent or perish.