Lessons of Mercy & Repentance through Tragedy
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'" (Luke 13:1-9)
At the beginning of chapter 13, Jesus is told about a particularly heinous incident. Jesus used the opportunity to talk about catastrophes, but redirects the focus to what the proper response should be to human atrocities and natural disasters.
People today, just like in the OT, are tempted to think that whenever something bad happens (tragedy), it must be because they have sinned or done something wrong.
There are all kinds of suffering in this world. In this passage Jesus is letting us know the purpose of tragedies - to force us to think of our own upcoming deaths and our great need to repent of our sin. Rather than condemning other, tragedies should provoke us to examine our own mortality and whether we are ready to meet our maker, for, unless we repent, we will perish eternally in hell.
Jonathan Edwards once asked his congregation to give him one reason why God hadn’t destroyed them since they got up that morning. He asked them to consider that every moment that we live, every luxury that we enjoy, every blessing that we participate in, is a matter of receiving the grace of God, that it represents God’s willingness to be patient with a race of people who have rebelled against him. God has called every human being to perfection. We are not allowed to sin. The penalty for sin is death, and yet we continue to sin and become astonished and offended when God allows suffering