Luke 13:1-5 – Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 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? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” NIV
Jesus asked these similar questions to confront the misconception that just because something bad happens to someone they must have done something terribly wrong. The same goes with the converse idea that just because everything is going well for someone they must be in good relations with God. This is a common misconception among a lot of religious people. It was confronted by God in the Book of Job, one of the earliest Bible books written. The prologue to Job’s story begins by the writer making it very clear that Job was righteous before God and dearly loved by Him. Yet God allows Satan to cause suffering in Job’s life to display his faith. Job’s friends suffered with Him for a while, but then basically assumed that Job had sinned somehow and needed to confess and get back on the right path. It was no different in Jesus’ time, and it is largely not different today … unless I am the one who is suffering.
Jesus apparently had insight into the intent of the comments about the Galileans who had encountered the wrath of Pilate. Those who made the comment were evidently using the plight of these Galileans to tout their own righteousness. His questions were to remind those listening that the state of one’s personal relationship with God is not dependent on one’s life situation at any given moment because of a variety of factors.
One of the primary factors is that Satan still has power on earth, and people have free will to make choices. So having a life that is presently free from trouble doesn’t mean that one is more righteous than one who is presently suffering. Our relationship with God is dependent on having made the decision to repent, meaning to turn around from self-direction to God-direction, seeking God’s forgiveness, and deciding to then follow the path of Jesus as our Lord (boss). It really doesn’t matter if our present life is better off than someone else’s. If good things are happening in our life, then praise God! If we are suffering, then seek His help, strength, and healing. Jesus seems to want us to focus on our own spiritual condition rather than comparing ourselves to others.
Some questions to consider: Do I rate other people’s spiritual condition by their life circumstances? When have you been surprised by the contrast between someone’s life circumstances and their spiritual condition? In what ways do I rate my spiritual condition by my life circumstances? Are there areas in my life where I need to “repent” and follow Jesus’ path for me?