In the States, we are living in troubled times.
One can’t avoid the stories of violence and racism rampant in our society.
Stories of police brutality. Stories of looting and rioting. Stories of murder.
One side decries systemic problems. The other side decries the multiple problems in the black community.
What would Jesus say to all this?
I think we get a pretty good idea from this passage.
Some people had brought up the latest news story to Jesus. The governor of Judea Pontius Pilate had murdered some Jews mingling their blood with their own sacrifices.
What kind of reaction did they expect from Jesus?
One would have thought that their reaction would be, “Say something against the systemic injustice in this nation! Criticize Pilate!”
Strangely enough, though, it seems from Jesus’ answer that those who brought the news were thinking, “Man, these Jews must have been pretty bad to deserve such a death.”
Jesus refused to criticize those men, at least directly. On the other hand, he also didn’t criticize Pilate, calling for social justice.
What did he say?
Do you think that these Galileans were more sinful than all the other Galileans because they suffered these things? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well. (2-3)
He then brought up another tragic news story, a tower seemingly randomly falling on a bunch of other Jews, killing them all. And he said of them,
…do you think they were more sinful than all the other people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well. (4)
What was Jesus doing with those words? He was getting people to get their eyes off the sin of others and onto themselves.
What would he say in today’s situation?
I think he would say something like this.
“Do you think Derek Chauvin is more sinful than all others in America because he is being put on trial for murder? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will be judged in a much higher court than even Chauvin is in.
“Do you think that George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks were more sinful than all the other people living in Minneapolis and Atlanta? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well.
“Do you think those who are looting, rioting, and killing are more sinful than all other Americans? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you too will be judged.
“Do you think those in the black community are more sinful than all other Americans? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you too will be judged.
“Do you think those in the white community are more sinful than all other Americans? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you too will be judged.”
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think by any means that Jesus was disregarding the sins of Pilate or those who were killed in those tragedies 2000 years ago. Nor does he disregard the sins of Floyd, Brooks, Chauvin, or all those who are looting, rioting, and killing. He doesn’t disregard the sins of the black community, the white community, the Asian community, or any other community. One day, they will all stand before his judgment seat to be judged.
But so must we.
And if we have not repented, we will all perish.
As the apostle Paul put it,
There is no one righteous, not even one.
There is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away;
all alike have become worthless.
There is no one who does what is good,
not even one.
Their throat is an open grave;
they deceive with their tongues.
Vipers’ venom is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and wretchedness are in their paths,
and the path of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment. For no one will be justified in his sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law. (Romans 3:10-20)
So before you decry the sins of the black community or the white community, before you decry the sins of the people around you, look at yourself. For unless you repent, you yourself will perish. The only hope you and I have is in Jesus.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)