Summary: Instead of asking why God doesn’t something about the suffering and tragedy in the world, we should ask ourselves the same question.
Luke 13: 1 – 9 Repent or Perish
Intro: I want to share with you some questions about which I’ve been thinking: 1) why does the executioner rub alcohol on the arm of a person about to receive a lethal injection? 2) Why do we call the time of day when traffic moves the slowest “rush hour?” 3) Why is freight moved by a boat called “CARgo while freight moved on wheels is called a “SHIPment?” Life is full of questions!
I. Here’s a question that was clearly on the minds of those gathered around Jesus in Luke 13. “Why is there so much tragedy and suffering in the world?”
A. Both the Jews and the Greeks at the time of Jesus believed an individual was punished for their sins. So, if you suffered, it was because you deserved it.
B. One day my cousin, Jim was being particularly ugly to me: calling me names and picking at everything I said and did. While chasing me, he tripped and fell and said to him, “That’s God punishing you for being mean to me.”
C. In the OT we do see God using suffering as judgment. God often used evil to judge evil. But, God sent Christ Jesus so we might experience grace through Him, not judgment. So why do we suffer, why does tragedy come?
II. The belief that when God is angry, bad things happen still exists today. We even joke about it when someone says something to which we believe God might take offense by saying, “I’m not sitting close to you. I don’t want to get hit when the lightening bolt comes through the window and zaps you.”
A. Some say that Katrina and Rita were God’s judgment on America: Katrina looked like an 8-week old fetus, so it was God’s judgment for allowing abortions. Others say New Orleans was hit so hard because of the sinful nature of it’s people. Are these natural disasters sent by God as punishment? Are terrorist attacks and suicide bombers God’s punishment?
B. This kind of thinking is not new. Jesus knew the people believed the tragic massacre of Galileans mentioned in verses 1 & 2 was a direct result of some great sin they committed as was the tragedy of the fallen tower mentioned in verse 4.
C. Jesus acknowledges their sin but makes it clear that we cannot assume they were worse than others. In essence Jesus says in verses 3 & 5 “You need to change the way you think. You have no right to say that this calamity was a commentary on the lives of the Galileans or the 18 crushed at Siloam. These calamities are messages to you that if you don’t repent, you will perish like them.”
III. III. Jesus calls the people and us to repentance. To repent is not merely a change of mind. It is a change in thinking that results in a change of attitude and behavior.
A. Instead, we continue to ask, “Why did this happen? Shat did these people do to deserve this? Why must this senseless violence continue? --- There are many who cannot live without answers. They would rather have a simple answer than no answer at all. But the problem is these are the wrong questions to ask.
B. When you ask the wrong questions, you are going to get the wrong answer. To ask why innocent Jews were slaughtered, to ask why innocent by-standers were crushed by a falling tower, to ask why 3000+ Americans died on 9/11 --- These are the wrong questions.