”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 other 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
The story is told of a shoplifter who writes to a department store and says, "I’ve just become a Christian, and I can’t sleep at night because I feel guilty. So here’s $100 that I owe you."Jesus was the finest teacher who ever lived. In the passage that we read this morning, He seems to clip two tragic stories from the local Jerusalem newspaper to drive home an important truth that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
"Then he signs his name, and in a little postscript at the bottom he adds, "If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the rest."
Obviously, this fellow did not understand about repentance. Unfortunately there is much ignorance about what repenance means and how important it is. That is why I will be spending several days emphasizing this vital spiritual concept.
Now no other historian but Luke records the two events Jesus alluded to. Josephus the great Jewish historian does not mention them.
Let us begin with the temple calamity. This would have been headlines in the Jerusalem Gazette. It is very likely that this event took place during the Passover, and these Galilean Jews had come down to offer their sacrifices. Apparently Pilate sends his soldiers to find some Galileans and slaughters them while they are offering sacrifices. We don’t know any of the details. But there they were, offering their sacrifices. Pilate comes, not personally, but his soldiers and finds them there and slices them up so that in a very gruesome way, a gory way, it describes their blood as being mingled with the blood of the sacrifices.
This raises the question about this calamity. These people aren’t pagan; they’re worshiping, they’re doing what the Old Testament says. They’re worshiping God, they’re confessing their sins, they’re bringing their offering. How can such a bad thing happen to good people?
And so in verse 2 Jesus responds to the intention of their bringing this incidnet up. “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things?” Jesus calls their conventional theology into question. Now do you think that the reason this happened to them was because they are the greatest sinners in Galilee? Is that what you think? Do you suppose that?
Jesus said in response, “Nay.” The Galileans who were slaughtered by Pilate were not greater sinners than others.
Let’s go to the second issue before we come back to the second half of verse 3. The first was the temple calamity. The
second is the tower calamity.
Jesus brings up another issue from the front page. “Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?” Jesus again says “Nay.”
Now let’s come to the third point, the temple calamity, the tower calamity, the true calamity. The true calamity, go back to verse 3, “Except ye repent , ye shall all likewise perish.” Verse 5, “Except ye repent , ye shall all likewise perish.” That’s the true calamity.
The real calamity is not that you were killed in the temple or that the tower fell on you or that you died by any other means. The real calamity is that if you don’t repent, when death comes you will perish.
True calamity is that you die and experience the judgment of God because you have not repented.
The issue is not how people die or when they die or by what cause they die. The issue is that they die without repenting.
Jesus is saying, “Look, don’t assume anything. You’re going to likewise perish except you repent.”