Devotion in Motion
Why Do bad things happen
“There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?” “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?” I tell you no; But unless you repent you will all likewise perish”
As Jesus pointed out in the preceding verses, one day this earth’s sin and sinners will be judged. Jesus will call fire from heaven. Yet in the meantime, God has stayed His hand. And where judgment is delayed, life can get confusing. Why do sinners prosper while saints go belly up? Right now, life is like the back of a cross stitch. All we see is the knotted, tangled underside. Life seems to be just a twisted maze of circumstances. From our limited perspective, life doesn’t always make sense. But one day, from heaven, we’ll see the beautiful upper side of God’s cross stitch called “life” and realize all the lines really did make sense.
There was a good purpose behind everything God did. In the meantime, God is expecting us to trust Him, even in the mess. Which sets up Luke 13 and a group of people who were perplexed by life’s flipside. They come to Jesus hoping He’ll make sense of a current tragedy. Verse 1, “There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” We really know nothing about these Galileans and the circumstances they spoke about. It seems they were worshippers on pilgrimage in Jerusalem. When they entered the Temple to offer their sacrifice, they were murdered in the act of worship. Were they guilty of an uprising the Roman guard was forced to put down? Were they just in the wrong place at the wrong time? We’re not sure. We’re not told. All we know is that Pontus Pilate despised the Jews and had no sensitivity or respect for the local customs and religion. It’s likely that this was another travesty of justice inflicted by a callous Pilate on innocent Jews.
There’s no doubt though this incident was front-page news. Everyone was talking about it; so Jesus was asked to comment about it. “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?” Of course, the obvious answer was “no.” These men may not have been thought of as sinners at all. They were in the Temple sacrificing to God. But Jesus says, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Here’s Jesus’ point… They didn’t die because they were worse sinners. They died because they were sinners. You see In a fallen world, all men have sinned and deserve to die. When it comes to heaven and hell, grades don’t matter. So what if you make a 34 or 45 on your test? Both are failing grades.
And any sinful stain will flunk you out of eternal life. Secret sinners deserve hell as much as despicable sinners. Crude sinners and cultured sinners go to the same place. We all need to repent. Without Jesus, nobody passes! If we don’t repent, we too perish. Then Jesus pulls another story from the news of His day… “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?” Here’s the thought behind the question… Did God orchestrate the toppling of this tower to punish the 18 victims? Or did the tower’s engineer miscalculate… or was this just bad timing?
The popular Jewish explanation was that when anything bad happened it was a judgment of God. All physical events could be traced to a spiritual cause. Every sickness or calamity was tracked back to a specific sin. Jews just assumed: bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. Yet Jesus says, “Wait! It’s not that simple.” Did the victims die because they were the “worse sinners… in Jerusalem?” Jesus answers His own question, “I tell you, no…” There was nothing the victims did or didn’t do to warrant them being in that tower when it fell. The tragedy was NOT the result of some specific sin! But was it the result of sin in general? And the answer is apparently “Yes!” because in the next sentence Jesus tells His listeners, “But unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Ultimately, all tragedy, sickness, poverty, natural disasters – are the result of sin. We live in a fallen world! Sin has thrown a wrench in the gears. Our world is no longer the utopia God created. The sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, subjected the planet to disorder, chaos, randomness. Nature went haywire. It now acts in erratic, unpredictable ways. The eighteen tower victims didn’t die because of a specific sin, but sin did kill them. You can trace all death back to its original source – the sin of Adam. When a tower falls, or when cancer strikes, or when a tornado hits – it’s no one’s fault and it’s everyone’s fault. It’s wrong to conclude the victim deserved what happened due to some specific sin, but it’s also wrong to assume we’re all innocent and somehow God is at fault because He allows the conditions our sin creates.
All we could say for sure is we live in a fallen world, and often we have no clue why God allows certain events. It’s wrong to force a deliberate cause onto everything that happens in life. actor, John Travolta once said, “The richer I get and the more famous I become, the more ordinary I realize I am, and that my only real talent is ‘luck’.” This is tough for Christians to swallow. I don’t believe in luck. The Bible teaches that behind all my circumstances is God’s providential hand, and ultimately it is. But that’s not how life can seem… Solomon actually makes a statement similar to John Travolta’s in Ecclesiastes 9:11. “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” We don’t like that explanation. It doesn’t satisfy our sense of fairness. Yet when God doesn’t give us any other explanation, that’s the only conclusion we can draw. The men in the tower were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It goes back to the cross-stitch. From the underside, life doesn’t always make sense. Some questions won’t get answered until we get to heaven!
Paul said we all see through a glass darkly” We can see on through to the other side but one day we will! Amen
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