News travels so fast in this age of high-speed communication, we hear almost instantly when something disastrous happens in another part of the world.
Who’s to blame?
Disaster – an exclusively modern phenomenon? Jesus spoke to his disciples about the headline news of their times. In Jerusalem, a tower had fallen on eighteen people and killed them. People naturally asked “Who’s to blame?”
Had those 18 people done something so bad that God made a tower fall on them? Perhaps there were people who felt a bit smug that nothing like that could ever happen to them… could it?? Jesus knew of these thoughts and he condemned 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 vv – 4-5
What did he mean by “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”? Was he saying that God would make towers fall on them too if they didn’t repent of their sins? And that the victims had not repented?
We need not fear death
A natural disaster, a war or an accident can affect anybody. We could die young, or live to a hundred. We need not fear death, but “perishing” is another matter. If I die tonight, I know that however it happens, I will not be dead forever, because Jesus will come back to this earth and raise the dead. However, some of those raised will not be given everlasting life. Daniel 12 v2 puts it like this:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
(The Bible does not teach the traditional idea that people will suffer for ever in hell-fire, but that is another subject.)
If we die in the hope of resurrection, we are not destroyed.
Jesus was not pronouncing judgment upon those 18 victims of a falling tower. He was warning people who try to apportion blame to stop doing it, and to think more deeply about their own attitudes and way of life. We have the opportunity to put our lives into God’s hands, knowing that He can bring us through the difficult times to an amazing future in His kingdom on this earth.