Luke 13 vs 1 - 5
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘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. 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.’
It seems that just like today, the people in Jesus time believed that bad things only happened to bad people and when disaster befell someone there was always a suspicion that they deserved it for some reason. Look around, bad things happen to good people, so what is going on here?
Well, just prior to the bible reading above Jesus made a reference to his crucifixion saying that he had a baptism to undergo, and that people should not suppose that he had come to bring peace on earth that in fact people will divide over him and families will be split down the middle. He tells the crowd that they know how to interpret the signs of the weather but that they cannot read the signs of coming judgement. Then came the knockout, if they thought that the people who were killed by Pilate or those who died when a tower fell on them deserved judgement more than they did, they needed a reality check. Unless the crowd listening took note of the signs and repented, judgement would fall on them.
We don’t like the thought of judgement; the whole idea of gentle Jesus meek and mild speaking about judgement is repugnant, it offends our childish images of the Saviour. We would much rather talk about love and I guess we are all like that, I know I am. Sometimes it is because the world is setting the agenda for us and to avoid any unpleasantness we tell them what they want to hear. The indulgent grandfather in the sky is a picture of God everyone can cope with. At other times our motive is the genuine and we simply believe the message of love will melt the hearts of sinful people and turn them to Jesus. Not very often though! In fact there is nothing contradictory about the judgement of God and the love of God for both must be held together and the cross is the place they meet.
Redeeming love you see has no reference point; there is nothing by which to measure it if we do not see it against the threat of judgement and punishment. If people do not know what they can be saved from by the death of Jesus and what they must bear apart from him why should they be moved by his love? It is incomprehensible to them and unnecessary. A jeweller may set a diamond necklace on black velvet to better show its beauty and the sparkle of its gems. Set against the darkness of judgement the wonder of Jesus love shines with greater beauty.