“Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5)
Every sin is a disaster. There is just nothing we gain from doing what God hates. We may deny God’s existence but we can never deny the effects of sin. In today’s Gospel passage, it was reported to Jesus that Pilate slaughtered some Galileans and mixed their blood with the sacrifices offered to the idols. They were probably expecting Jesus to get angry at Pilate or even pronounce a curse on him but to their surprise, Jesus used the occasion to draw their attention to the horror of sin itself.
There is always a tendency for us to assume that nature of one’s death is proportional to the extent of the person’s sinfulness but as Jesus explains, those who suffered such painful deaths were not even worse sinners than anyone else. With these words, Jesus wants us to perceive the odour of sin. If those who suffered thus were not worse sinners, then what would be my fate if I remain in sin?
On several occasions, Jesus made reference to hell as a place of weeping and grinding of teeth; a place of suffering and pain, a place “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:48) Following what Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel passage, we can simply say that the gruesome pain of the Galileans whose blood were mixed with sacrifices or those upon whom the Tower of Siloam fell is just a tiny fraction in comparison to the pain of hell.
Note that Jesus is not supporting what Pilate did instead Jesus seizes the occasion to teach us that sin is bad and when you really consider what Jesus’ statement, you would notice that it also includes the sin of Pilate as well. Like He did on the occasion of the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus has a way of bringing us all to terms with our sins rather than simply pointing fingers or casting stones at particular individuals.
In our country today, we may all be pointing fingers at a certain individual or certain individuals, labelling them as worst sinners, evil people or demons for their roles in the events that have played out recently but we all need to remind ourselves that “unless we repent, we will all perish.” The fact that my own sins may not be known publicly does not make them less than anyone else’s. Avoid pointing fingers, “Let him who has not sinned be the first to cast a stone.”
After drawing the attention of His audience to the smell of sin, Jesus goes on to give a parable to show us how God in His mercy keeps giving us chance after chance to repent and bear the right fruits He is expecting of us. Like the case of the vinedresser who pleaded for one more year to dig around the barren tree and apply manure, we must know that there must surely come a time when all we would have left is “the last chance.” Stop, think of the consequences of sin before you act. Every sin is a disaster. The book of Sirach would say: “Flee from sin as from a snake; for if you approach sin, it will bite you. Its teeth are lion’s teeth, and destroy the souls of men.” (Sirach 21:2)
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, touch my heart and free me from all my hidden sins. Amen.
Bible Study: Ephesians 4:7-16, Psalm 122:1-5 and Luke 13:1-9).