I suppose it’s only natural that after Jesus talked about the need for being reconciled to God before the coming judgment, that someone would bring up an incident that had just happened. Apparently, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate had just ordered the deaths of a number of Galileans as they were offering their sacrifices. He then mixed their blood with that of the sacrifices.
The implied question: “Are you talking about people like this, Jesus? They must have been pretty bad to have been judged by God like this.”
But Jesus replied,
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. (2-3)
He then pointed out another disaster that had recently occurred, this one an accident. He continued,
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.
What is Jesus saying? We could waste a lot of time trying to figure out why things happen. “Were these people that perished worse sinners than others? Why did God allow this to happen?”
But ultimately, the real question we need to ask ourselves is this: “Just like these people who perished, one group at the hand of a wicked man, and the other group in a seemingly meaningless accident, all of us will die someday. And none of us know when. We may think we have all the time in the world, but our life can be taken in an instant. Am I ready?”
The rich man in Jesus’ parable in Luke 12 was not. The people who had just died in those two tragedies may or may not have been ready. But it’s too late to worry about them. What about you? Are you ready?
Jesus then told a parable of a man who had planted a fig tree but which after three years had yet to bear fruit. He determined to cut it down, but the man in charge of the vineyard asked him to give it a bit more time. He would do everything he could to make it bear fruit (fertilize it, etc.) and after another year, if it bore no fruit, then they would cut it down.
We see here two things, God’s judgment and mercy. God desires to see fruit in our lives, the fruit of salvation that he bought with his Son’s blood. And it would be easy for him to quickly just chop down any tree, any person that does not quickly bear fruit. But he is patient, continually working in people’s hearts that they might be saved.
But ultimately, the day will come when judgment cannot be put off any longer. And if you are not ready, if you are not bearing fruit, you will perish for all eternity.
So let us not worry about, “Why did this atrocity happen? Or why did this disaster occur?” Instead, let us realize that our life could be cut short at any time. And let us ask ourselves, “Am I ready?”