Luke 13: The Importance of Eternity
It is interesting that Jesus mentioned something about the problem of evil in Luke 13.
Luk 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Luk 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
Luk 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luk 13:4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
Luk 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
It almost feels like Jesus is changing the topic. For example, there were 18 people who died when a tower collapsed. Were they such bad people that they were being punished? Jesus says they were not, but then He says that unless the listeners repent, they are going to perish.
It is somewhat perplexing. Is Jesus saying that people who remain in sin are going to die in a tragic accident? Certainly not because He has just affirmed that it was not because of some particular evil that the people who died in these accidents passed away. Suffering is not indicative of some particular evil in a person’s life. That is certainly comforting for people who are experiencing tragic scenarios in their own lives.
The remainder of the sentence in verse three and verse five does make you wonder a little bit. It seems like Jesus has changed the topic. After all, we were talking about physical pain and suffering, and all of a sudden He has changed topics to repentance and presumably spiritual death which is eternal separation from God.
Why would He do that?
I think that Jesus recognized that it was important to comment on the earthly tragedies. It was important to point out that the existence of evil and suffering in a person’s life is not necessarily a reflection of that person being particularly evil or sinful. However, because any person’s time on earth is simply a blip on the timeline of eternity, it is more important that the spiritual house is in order. Certainly, suffering on earth is difficult, but any suffering on earth pales in comparison to the suffering that one would face in an eternity separated from God. He wanted to get to the heart of the problem.
I think that is probably why Jesus felt the need to move the conversation in this direction. He didn’t mean to discount what was happening on earth, but He also knew what was infinitely more important.