A common belief, both in the ancient world and in contemporary society, is that bad things happen to bad people. If someone is a "good person," generally things will work out well both in this life and in the next. The Jews of Jesus" day accept this axiom as part of life; those who have lost houses or jobs, or especially those who have died prematurely, must have brought disaster on themselves. This must have been especially true of the Galileans Pilate had killed and whose blood he had mingled with his sacrifices, so the Jews bring the issue of their horrible fate to Jesus.
Jesus responds, however, with a warning that sounds far more sobering than they want: "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:2-3). He then echoes the truth by comparing it to another tragic event: "Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (13:4-5). Twice in this brief exchange Jesus calls for people to repent. Repentance is the theme of His message; in fact, the verb here does not signify a one-time event. Rather, He calls people to a lifestyle of repentance.
This scene in Luke's Gospel reveals a number of truths about repentance:
Jesus warns His disciples to be watchful. What are the marks of watchfulness He mentions?
What truths does the barren fig tree teach about God? About believers and their work?
Why does Jesus tell the Pharisees, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but you say, 'We see." Therefore your sin remains" (Jn. 9:41)?
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