Gospel of Luke 13: 1-5 (NIV)
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.”
Even today, our society and we as individuals tend to link disasters with God’s retribution. We have a tendency to perceive a cause-and-effect relationship between individual or group sinfulness and catastrophe. Perhaps you can recognise examples in your own locality in the recent past?
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus made it very clear that the link we see is primarily because of our own sinfulness. We do not like to recognise fault in ourselves; rather we would regard others as “worse sinners” than we are and more deserving of disaster-as-punishment.
Scripture reminds us elsewhere (for example in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans 3: 23) that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. All have sinned! That includes each one of us.
Jesus used these disasters to drive home his message that all of us need to repent.
A tragic truth about repentance is that we cannot expect one act of repentance to remain efficacious forever! Even after repenting, we continue to sin. We must continue to repent.
In this respect, repentance is not unlike our surrendering of our wills to God. Though I have surrendered today, I must again surrender tomorrow and (at least in my case) that means surrendering my will to him many times today and tomorrow!
Let each of us invite God to help us through our repentance to grow, so that on each occasion we become closer to the person that God would have us to be.