Luke 13:1-5 begins with racial tension. It says some people came up to Jesus and told him about an awful murder involving Galileans and Pilate. The Galileans were hated by the Romans, they were even looked down-upon by their own. Remember the phrase “can anything good come from Nazareth? (John 1:46) Guess where Nazareth is located? Yes, Galilee. Then we have the Romans who had been in this area for almost a century. They were the Jew’s oppressors and were understandably hated by them.There is nothing new under the sun, my brothers and sisters. Hatred due to ones ethnic makeup is not new and how Jesus addresses it is very interesting.
So back in Luke 13:1, we do not know who brought this up, but there is an obvious agenda. These people are stirring the pot. Remember, racial tension is high. The Jews want a Messiah who is going to liberate them from Roman oppression. They want a warrior. They are restless and the presence of Roman authority is everywhere. Pilate, their governor, has abused his power and had Galilean Jews murdered presumably in their own synagogue and mixed their blood along with the sacrifice. This was an act against them and God! These men were innocent! They were Jews! Even closer to Jesus heart, they were Galilean! They were just like him! Now what do you have to say Jesus!!
Jesus . doesn’t . even . answer . their. question. He doesn’t even address their issue. He doesn’t go there with them.
Instead, like always, he gets to the root of the issue by asking them a question: “Do you think these Galileans were more sinful because they suffered more than other Galileans?”
What a question! Jesus address their biases AND the true heart of the issue. Jesus DIDN’T ask, “do you think these Galileans were more righteous?” but he asked “do you think they were more sinful.” Why? Because suffering – just like today – was seen as a form of punishment by God. – Remember Job was asked, “what did you do to offend God that you suffer so much (Job 4)?” Same philosophy. – Jesus asks them this to show them that they should be assuming the suffering is coming from sin. They usually would have thought this, but because they have a political agenda, all of a sudden their suffering is because of Pilate, not God. This is called virtue signaling and is usually drenched in hypocrisy, which happens to be one of Jesus’ pet peeves. Jesus shocks them by giving them the benefit of the doubt, which leaves them even more speechless.
Then Jesus answers his own question with a resounding “NO!” and then elaborates with “but unless you repent, you will perish as well.” I believe he let that phrase soak in a little and then continued. He answered “no” because the Galileans were not more sinful. They were not more righteous. Their suffering was not special because they were Galilean, or because they were victims of a race crime. Jesus then continues with a horrible scene that must have just happened and was still on the minds of the people – maybe like the corona virus is with us right now. In verse 4, Jesus mentions that 18 people died when a tower fell on them. Their deaths weren’t any more special than the deaths of the Galileans because He includes them in the same subject and that is that the ONLY tragedy here is not death in and of itself, but the death of someone who doesn’t repent.
Galileans killed by Romans, Romans killed in war, people killed in accidents, black men killed by cops, cops killed by rioters, the elderly dead from covid; and on and on, if they all died without repentance they are in hell. THAT is the tragedy my brothers and sisters. THAT is why Jesus was there talking with these people. THAT is why He came, to bring all who will repent and believe to salvation. Jesus says again in verse 5: “Unless you repent you will all perish as well.” He says this twice!
In Jesus’ way of thinking here there are two kinds of people. Those who perish, and those who do not. Those who believe and those who do not. Those who are saved and those who are not. These are the lenses we should see our world through. When we hear of the deaths of people, our next thought should be “were they saved?” or “Did they know our Lord?” or “Did anyone tell them of the Good News that we who were bound to and deserving of hell have a Savior?” We should mourn our complacency of not sharing this Good News to our lost friends and family and world!
Who cares if they are Galilean! God didn’t when He judged them! They died without knowing Christ. That is what He cared about! THAT is what should stir you to do something!
Can I say something that is probably going to get me into a lot of trouble? Who cares if he’s black? God doesn’t.
Who cares if she’s a woman? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s brown? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s a cop? God doesn’t
Who cares if she’s poor? God doesn’t.
What God says is that unless they repent, they too will perish! THAT’S IT! There is nothing about our DNA, social status or upbringing that God cares about when it comes to our judgement! We are without excuse and we will die UNLESS we are covered and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ! And it worries me that the church has been baited into this racial narrative. Jesus wasn’t. He went to the core of the issue as we should also.
From now on, when there is tragedy and death, I pray my mind will go to the heart of the issue and think “I too will perish, unless I repent.” Bad things happen all the time. Jesus describes this in passing in this text. It should remind us that we too will die and that people regardless of race or social statuses are dying everyday without knowing Him. I will not take sides in racial issues, because Jesus didn’t. I am on His side, and will live out my life professing the Gospel to all who will hear me.
#race #racialtension #jesus #perish #gospel