Luke 13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Luke 13:2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?
Luke 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Luke 13:4 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?
Jesus’ popularity during this time had escalated (Luke 12:1) as evidenced by the massive Galilean crowds becoming overwhelmed by his teachings. As is the case with men who respect someone of genius, a few decide to put some hard questions to the Messiah. As Jesus hard sayings from (Luke 12) no doubt had unsettled their hearts, they ask a bamboozling question desperate to prove his ‘ordinariness.’ Did the Galileans (that Pilate treated cruelly) suffer because they were worse sinners than other Galileans? The question is really a theological one, which when unveiled whines more like, “How do we understand the problem of evil?” or “Does God judge based on a record of evils?”
History suggests by the ancient historian Josephus that the Galileans were known for being seditious, aggressive and extremely wicked. The events described in verses 1-2 appear to have been recent. Some suggesting that Pilate killed the seditious Galilean Jews in revenge, took their blood and co-mingled it with the customary Jewish animal sacrifices. Those asking the question may have thought that the Galileans had it coming to them, by suggesting that they must have been ‘worse sinners.’ But Jesus, comes back with his own scenario framed as a question back to them, asking about the Tower of Siloam – when 18 suddenly died under it’s collapse in south Jerusalem. “Were they worse sinners too?”
“No.” That is Jesus summary answer, which perhaps means several things by our Lord:
- “No” they were not necessarily worse sinners because a worse event happened to them.
- “No” your thinking is flawed. Your question misunderstands cruelty and tragedy. You assume tragedy is only ‘in the moment of time.’ But things like this, and even a far worse judgment will confront all men.
- “No” no one is safe on their own. Living on God’s earth, is like walking through a mine-field. We should expect tragedy.
- “No” repentance is the only safeguard.
- “No” these events do not surprise God, He is in control of the tragedy! (He holds the answer to it, ‘unless you repent’)
- “No” I (Christ) am the exclusive object of your repentance. To repent is to leave sin, and to believe that I am the Way, the Truth the Life, the only salvation through God.
Sometimes we privately convince ourselves, that we are better, wiser, more virtuous so as to escape tragedy. Or we simply think according to percentages, ‘something like a tower falling on me, just isn’t likely to happen.’ Other times, we think we’re like a professional running back, able to dodge any would-be-assault on our lives; that we are fully in control of the outcome. I recently read that 108 billion people have lived since the beginning of time. We know an estimated 8 billion are living currently. Therefore, an estimated 100 billion have had to face the horrors of death by some of the most unthinkably cruel and ruthless means. However, the good news and yet the morbid reality is that Jesus preaches a universal humanitarian funeral…briefly stated “repent or you will all likewise perish.”
In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world. John 16:33