Summary: Jesus here teaches us the urgency of repentance. Death is the common denominator for everyone. Only repentance can bring life to people.
LUKE 13:1--9 [PARABLES IN LUKE]
A mixture of thoughts and emotions swept over me when I heard that a plane had crashed near Pittsburgh, killing everyone aboard. I felt numb. So many people were suddenly ushered into eternity. I thought about the panic that swept over the passengers and crew as the plane hurtled downward. I wondered how many were ready to meet the Lord.
My heart went out to those who had loved ones or friends on that flight. Why did those people die? Not because they were any better or worse than the rest of us. Since all of us sin, none of us has a right to think we are too good to die this way. There is no room for self-righteous smugness. Nor is there room for bitter complaining. In our fallen world, death comes to all of us, one way or another, in God's own time.
This section teaches that disasters are a call to repentance. They should remind us of our need to confess our sins and turn to Jesus for salvation or to renew our commitment to Him.
Jesus here teaches us the urgency of repentance. He uses two examples of calamities that befell certain Jews to illustrate the fate that awaits those who do not repent. [This unit is unique to Luke’s Gospel but resembles the cursing of the fig tree in the Passion accounts (Mt 21:18–19; Mark 11:12–14).]
The point that we all need to repent is brought home in verses 3 and 5, with “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Death is the common denominator for everyone. Only repentance can bring life to people (CIM). To illustrate His point Jesus taught in a parable that if fruit does not show in your life, you must repent.
I. POLITICAL TRAGEDY, 1-3.
II. NATURAL DISASTER, 4-5.
III. FRUITLESS LIVES, 6-7.
IV. SECOND CHANCES, 8-9.
At the same time as Jesus’ discourse recorded in chapter 12 was ending some people arrived from Jerusalem and in verse 1 tell Jesus about a tragic event that occurred at the temple. “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
For some unknown reason Pilate had executed a few Galileans (how many is unknown) while they were offering their sacrifices. [Luke gives the only account of this incident.] Since laymen were allowed to perform their own Passover sacrifices, this may very well have been the occasion. The report that Pilate had "mingled their blood with their sacrifices" is probably not literally the case, for such an action would have incited the populace to a possible insurrection. It probably meant that not only was the blood of the sacrificial animals shed, but the blood of the Galileans was as well, possible in or around the temple. Passover time was often a time of political unrest, a time when Jewish patriotic feelings ran high and Roman concerns were justifiably aroused. (Jesus was crucified under precisely such circumstances.) These Galileans were seemingly caught up in some sort of plot or activity deemed treasonable by Pilate. [Evans, Craig. New International Com. Luke. 1995. Hendrickson Publishers. Peabody, Mass. p. 204.]
These folk or reporters may have wanted Jesus to address religious rights or political limits. There is a more basic issue, a more important issue than political boundaries or religious rights that Jesus wants His audience to think about.
Whatever the circumstances, the death of these unfortunate pilgrims evokes the question that Jesus asks in verse 2. “And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?
This question, coupled with verse 4, reflects a common notion among the Jews of Jesus’ day that physical affliction was caused by sin (see John 9:1-2). Did their murder prove that they were worse sinners than all the other Galileans? Jesus counters this point in the following verse.
There is a more basic issue involved than religious or political rights. Verse 3 calls people to repent if they are going to live. “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Their death did not prove that they were greater sinners. But their death should remind all who hear of it of the need to repent. Their deaths were not the result of some superabundance of sin or the judgment of God. On the contrary, they were making atonement at the time of their deaths.
Jesus uses this incident [and that of v. 4] of sudden and unexpected death as a teaching point about the necessity of repentance.
II. NATURAL DISASTER, 4-5.
In verse 4 Jesus brings up another incident that shows life’s frailty. “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?”