Summary: We ask "why do innocent folks suffer?" but do we dare to hear Jesus’ answer?
Suffering of the Innocent
By Andrew Chan, Senior Pastor, PBC, Vancouver, BC
An airliner was having engine trouble, and the pilot instructed the cabin crew to have the passengers take their seats and prepare for an emergency landing. A few minutes later the pilot asked the flight attendants if everyone was buckled in and ready. “All set back here,” came the reply, “except for one lawyer who’s still passing out business cards.”
Sounds funny but in real world tragedies such as a plane crash happens.
Tragedies such as …
“Father who just ‘lost it’ kills kids.” Police say a man bludgeoned his 5 year old twins to death with a sledgehammer Thursday because they were slow in getting ready for day care.
Tragedies such as …
In Germany, at least 100 killed when the Hamburg-bound Inter-city Express 884 bullet train crashed and broke apart at 200 km/h Wed. morning.
Every morning wake up to another smattering of news regarding tragedy all around the world.
Every morning we wake up realize there’s just too much in this world to handle. As a result we become numb. Years back Kitty Genovese was screaming up and down NY street. Why? Someone was trying to kill her. The whole episode took about 20 minutes and finally she was murdered and people just sat and watch. "Why do bad things happened to innocent people?" we asked.
In our text this morning, same question was raised. What about the people Pilate slaughtered, or the innocent people killed by the falling of the tower? Where was God in these events?
Where is God in the plane crash, when the sledgehammer bearing father bludgeoned the 5 year old twins, or the bullet-train crash in Germany, or for Kitty? How can a good God allow such things to happen?
As R.C. Sproul suggests is “actually a thinly veiled accusation. The issue was how can God allow innocent people to suffer?”
Death occurred suddenly, no one expected it and boom!
18 people died when tower fell on them. Minding their own business. They were just there, wrong place wrong time.
Do you want to know what Jesus answer was?
Let me tell you it was not because God was too tired. Or is running the universe just got a bit too much to handle. That was not Jesus’ answer.
Jesus could have said: I know I told you that My Father notices every sparrow and that He numbers the hairs on your head. Too busy counting? So he overlooked a few disasters.
But what was Jesus answer to why does not God do something and prevent tragedies to innocent people?
What He said was “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Doesn’t sound too comforting? Is He avoiding the question?
As Sproul (1985,p.161) in The Holiness of God. writes:
In effect what Jesus was saying was this: “You people are asking the wrong question. You should be asking me, ‘Why didn’t that tower fall on my head?’” Jesus rebuked the people for putting their amazement in the wrong place. In two decades of teaching theology I have had countless students ask me why God doesn’t save everybody. Only once did a student come to me and say, “There is something I just can’t figure out. Why did God redeem me?”
Staggering thought, isn’t it? Tendency to think we all have some redeeming qualities, thus deserve to be included into heaven. So what amazes us is justice, not grace.
There is a tendency to take grace for granted. Sproul taught 1st year OT course at a Christian College in class with 250 people.
Ist day went over course assignments clearly. 3 papers, must handed in on time. No extensions for papers unless sick or death. Not on time auto. F.
1st assignment due in Sept. 225 students handed in 25 didn’t, terror and remorse. High school to college adjustment excuse. Extension please.
Oct. 200 and 50 - Excuse: Homecoming week, midterm all other classes due assignments too.
Nov. 150 and 100 strolled into lecture hall utterly unconcerned.
Where are your papers? “Oh don’t worry Prof, we’re working on them. We’ll have them in a couple of days, no sweat.”
I picked up my lethal black grade book and began taking down names. “Johnson! Do you have your paper? “No sir” came the reply. “F” I said as I wrote the grade in the book. Muldaney!…The students reacted with unmitigated fury. They howled in protest, screaming “That’s not fair.”
I looked at one of the howling students. “Lavery! You think it’s not fair?” “NO” he growled in protest.
“I see. It’s justice you want? I seem to recall that you were late with your paper the last time. If you insist upon justice you will certainly get it. I’ll not only give you an F for this assignment, but I’ll change your last grade to the F you so richly deserved.”