“Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)
Jesus was responding to a question from his disciples regarding a tragedy that had befallen a group of Galileans (who had been slaughtered while performing sacrifices, likely during Passover). Jesus had just finished a discourse that told his believers to discern the time – now is the time to respond to God. Be ready — always ready — to appear before Him. The deaths of these Galileans were sudden. Apparently, some of the people thought that perhaps it was retribution for something they had done. To believe so was to misunderstand what Jesus taught. He corrects them by reminding them that neither the Galileans nor the eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell were worse sinners than they were. Yes, the calamities of this world fall suddenly on us all. The question is not whether they will happen, but where our trust is invested and whether we are ready to stand before God.
Several weeks ago I was in Nepal as one of the speakers at a pastors conference. None of us would have imagined the catastrophe that was about to hit that nation. Yet only a couple of weeks later the very ground on which we stood shook violently. Homes and buildings in the area crumbled. Our friends, who thankfully reported safe, are now at work ministering to those hurt by the tragedy. It is unimaginable what those who have been affected are going through. The loss of life is staggering.
One CNN reporter said that Christians, Jews and Muslims tend to ask a question at such times, “why did God let this happen?” whereas the Hindus and Buddhists do not. The reporter said that Hindus and Buddhists would wonder why such things would not happen, since they have always happened.
Whether the reporter is right about who asks what or not, he was closer to what Jesus was trying to say. The fallen world is just that – fallen. Earthquakes, wars, disasters of all kind simply happen. Everybody dies at some point. That is not because God is doing something, but because something as already happened – the world is fallen and subject to futility. But a new Kingdom has been set loose into this world. Its people are aliens who see things from an entirely different reality — one revealed directly to us by God Himself. Into this fallen world, as it runs its corrupt course, Jesus says that we should be putting our trust in Him for the eternal consequences of life that are being determined here and now.
And furthermore, He told us what to expect…
“…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains… And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:7-8; 12-14)
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (Romans 8:19-22)
James said, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16). So however you respond to the crisis in Nepal, please be praying for those who are in the midst of it…
— Protection for those injured or still trapped – that some may yet be found alive
— For a cessation of aftershocks
— For unrestricted flow of relief help to those affected
— For the Church as she reaches out in love to all those around them.
— That people might find comfort in God