Luke 13:1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
The Bible does not tell us any more about this incident, but apparently, the same Pilate who later sentenced Jesus to crucifixion, slaughtered some Galileans while they were at the temple offering their sacrifices. We don’t know why Pilate did this, but the action is consistent with his reputation for cruelty.
Luke 13:2-3 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.
A popular idea, back then, was that most people got what they deserved. If they were good people, God would take care of them. If they were bad people, something terrible might happen.
Nadab and Abihu worshipped God contrary to the way he prescribed, So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them (Leviticus 10:2). Korah led a rebellion against Moses, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed [him] (Numbers 16:32). Since God has the power to execute his wrath when and where he pleases, many reasoned from disaster back to sin.
Luke 13:4-5 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.
This is another event of which we have no more information. Perhaps they were building a tower in the section of Jerusalem’s wall near the pool of Siloam. Something went terribly wrong, and eighteen people died. Some thought it was divine judgment, but Jesus disagreed.
Two mistakes need to be avoided when trying to understand the relationship between God and disaster. The first is to assume that whoever comes to a violent end did something wrong. That might be true, but there is no way to be sure. Instead of judging others in light of their disaster, Jesus taught us to view disaster as a warning to ourselves. [U]nless you repent, you too will all perish, he said.
The second mistake is to assume that God no longer pours out his wrath as he did in the Old Testament. God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day (Psalm 7:11), wrote David. When Ananias and Sapphira lied about how much money they gave to the church, they fell over dead (Acts 5:1-10). This shows that God is willing to kill people even after the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:30).
Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), God has a right to strike every time we sin. Thankfully, he often delays his judgment. [H]e is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), wrote Peter. We ought to be thankful for God’s patience, and never put it to the test.
Luke 13:10-11 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.
The ability to stand up straight is often taken for granted, especially by the young. With age, however, many curve forward, and cannot straighten up at all. We do not know this woman’s age, but she had been in that condition for eighteen years. She saw little but the ground, seldom looked at faces, and only saw the sun with effort.
Luke 13:12-13 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
In fact, she probably praised God every time she stood up straight for the rest of her life. Likewise, those who were healed of blindness probably praised God every time they opened their eyes. And those who were healed of deafness probably praised God every time they heard the sound of children playing. From these we learn to praise God for many things we usually take for granted.
If your arms bend at the elbows, you ought to praise God for that. And if your legs bend at the knees, you ought to praise God for that too. Our bodies have countless parts, any of which can fail at any time. When we consider all the things that can go wrong, we’ll be amazed that we are ever healthy, or not any sicker than we are.
And even if we are sick, every day of our lives, all who believe in Jesus Christ will be healed eventually. [He] will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:21), wrote Paul. We may have to suffer for years, but this will make us want to praise the Lord forever, in a glorious body that will never disappoint.
Luke 13:25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, Sir, open the door for us. But he will answer, I don’t know you or where you come from.
This applies to people who want to sin a little more before they come to Christ. They know there is much at stake, but they assume there will always be time to make their peace with God. But according to Jesus, this may not be true.
Years ago I went to a store and pulled into the parking lot at 8:59 in the evening. I did not know what time they closed, so I parked the car and ran to the door. But the moment I got to the door a lady inside turned the key. I looked at her with pleading eyes, but she said, We’re closed. I threw up my hands and begged, but she shook her head and said, We’re closed. If I had arrived a few seconds earlier I could have been in, but now it was too late. That’s how it will be on the last day. And What . . . . he shuts no one can open (Revelation 3:7), wrote John.
Reflection and Review
How does God punish people today?
Why do our bodies give us so much grief?
What do you want to be doing when Jesus returns?