Summary: God has a message for us in tragedy.
As we look at the tenth anniversary of 9/11 we need to reflect on what this means to all human beings not just Americans or the people who had loved one die that day. It is a lesson from God for all of us.
Throughout the centuries people of all faiths have tried to explain tragedy. Natural disasters would make many offer up sacrifices of animals or people to appease an angry god(s). Death or illness at an early age or even barrenness of the womb clearly meant the judgment of God on a sinner or instant Karma got them as the old song said. Conversely, if people lived to a ripe old age, had healthy children and were rich then the gods were with those people.
The Bible in many places tells us that the common consensus of men is wrong. Being rich does not mean God has blessed a person and dying early or a horrible death does not mean the person was a greater sinner than someone else. Indeed, we are all sinners and if we were only guilty of one “small” sin we would still die and go to Hell and there is no one that is guilty of just one sin no matter what size we think they come in. Sins are somewhat like a brand of potato chips. You can't commit just one. One bite of forbidden fruit and you really cannot stop. Any sin against God is one too many so while we find some sins tolerable and even not a problem and others extremely heinous in the end it doesn't really matter. All sins will be accounted for and if not paid for by the blood of Christ they will come out of our personal bank accounts and we are spiritually bankrupt. We had debtor's prisons and God has Hell for rebels who refuse to have their debts/sins settled at the Cross.
1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. KJV
In verse one we see these people who were at worship when Pilate had them killed. There are many religious people that are not saved and many may be far more dedicated and moral than some of the saved but that will not spare them. The common consensus of the day was that these people must have been great sinners to have this happen to them while sacrificing to God. Yet, Christ says that was not the truth. Indeed, many brethren are slaughtered and persecuted daily because of their faith and they are the true children of God. They will wear the martyr's crown when we get there. The Galileans suffered a terrible death, but that was not the real problem those listening had to face. The fact is that all sinners will ultimately perish whether they die in their sleep at an advanced age or are murdered in their youth. Since the Bible says that all have sinned then we need to reflect on the tragedies of life and find out how to avoid the only real tragedy and that is being a sinner in the hands of an angry God when we die and tossed into Hell to suffer eternally. Any other tragedy we may have suffered in our lives will seem like a day of joy compared to what is experienced in the first seconds of eternity in the lake of fire.
We do not know what caused the tower of Siloam to fall in this passage. It may have been a shift in the foundation caused by a previous flooding or seismic activity or sabotage or even a fault in its construction. All we know is that people passed by it daily for years without problem. It may have been used as a landmark to guide people around the city. Yet, one day it fell and killed eighteen people. Again, the common consensus was that these people were really bad people to have this happen to them. Again Christ tells them to kick common consensus to the curb and realize that they are just as certain to perish unless they repent.
I had a coworker once who was very angry at God because her godly mother was unmercifully stabbed to death during a bank robbery. As a new Christian I tried to comfort her as best I could saying that as soon as she had entered Heaven all that was forgotten. Whatever means of transportation that is used to get you to glory really does not matter. No matter how comfortable the ride to Hell all comfort will be forgotten when the ride is over.