SUFFERING OF THE INNOCENT

Opening Prayer

Spirit of God, give me new understanding in what you say to me in your Word today. Help me to turn my understanding into action.

Read LUKE 13:1-9

Repent or Perish

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

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New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.’1

Think Further

News traveled south along the road from Galilee: Pilate had committed a gruesome massacre. Although this is not recorded elsewhere in our Scriptures, Pilate was notoriously violent toward religious gatherings he considered subversive.2 From Jesus’ ‘answer’ (v 2), it seems that the crowd were questioning whether these deaths were deserved, whether Pilate was God’s instrument of punishment. Some interpreted the old covenant as teaching that good people were blessed and bad people cursed, but this atrocity picks up another strand in the Old Testament: the difficult question of the suffering of the innocent. This is the only context in the Gospels where Jesus deals specifically with innocent suffering. His answer is clear: those people had not suffered because they were worse sinners than others. Turning to a natural disaster, the collapse of a tower in Siloam, possibly part of the wall of Jerusalem, Jesus gives the same answer: It was an accident, with no connection to the victims’ sins.

We live in a fallen world where God permits human sin and corrupted earth to run their course. Both will continue to mutate and deform. Both will cause suffering and death, until God brings this age to its close and creation is finally restored. Jesus warns us that, when confronted with news of such disasters, we should be thoughtful, reminded of our own mortality, using the opportunity to repent – that is, to turn our lives around and reorient ourselves to the right path.3 Like the fig tree, we always have another chance. However, like the fig tree’s reprieve, that chance does not last forever.

Apply

We feel the pain of sin and a dysfunctional world. May we turn and follow the Lord of the earth, who will make all things new.

Closing prayer

Lord, show me where my heart and actions are not in tune with your will for me and lead me to repentance, even if this will not be the first time I’ve asked for forgiveness. I praise you, the God of second chances.

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by kingstar

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