Whenever we are confronted by tragic news, we naturally seek answers. Our common response is to ask, ‘Why did it happen?’ It was no different for a group of people Jesus encountered as he made his way to Jerusalem. They told Jesus of a distressing event in Jerusalem involving some Galileans. Pilate, the corrupt and cruel governor of Judea, had them murdered while they were offering their sacrifice to God, most likely at Passover.
Going by Jesus’ response, they wanted a theological explanation for why the Galileans suffered such a gruesome end. The Jewish people of Jesus’ day believed that these Galileans must have been really bad people under God’s judgment. You see this assumption in a similar question the disciples asked of Jesus when they were met by a blind beggar in Jerusalem. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John9:2)
Jesus doesn’t answer them. It is not that ‘why’ questions are off limits. I’m a why person through and through. That is how God has made me but it has been counterproductive, especially when I become like a dog with a bone in my quest for answers. So what if we knew why the Galileans were slaughtered or why innocent by-standers were killed by a falling tower? What then? ‘Why’ questions are not always helpful. They can become conversational rabbit holes that change nothing! How, then, did Jesus respond?
Firstly, in Luke 13:1-5, he gets the people to refocus their attention on a far greater tragedy yet to come, the final judgement of God on sin. It is a certainty for those who reject his offer of grace and mercy but the good news is, God sent Jesus not to condemn the world but to save the world through him (John 3:17). For those who turn to him (repent), they are rescued from God’s judgement. Secondly, Jesus acted rather than engaged in theological discussions. He fed the hungry. He stilled a destructive storm. He gave sight to the blind beggar. He saved the adulterous woman from being stoned (John 8:1-11). He loved the marginalised and outcast.
A missions organisation located in a red light district area had embarked upon a building project just before the pandemic hit. The impact was severe. A major source of their income dried up. The question before the leaders and the board was about survival. As they worked out how long they could operate, a group of 30 prostitutes and pimps came to them asking for help!
The organisation had spent years trying to reach out to them. This is the first time they approached the organisation. It turned out COVID closed down all the brothels in the area. They could no longer provide for their families. To cut the long story short, the leaders or the organisation sought the Lord about how to respond. They felt God say, “If you look after the poor, I will look after you!”. And that’s what they did. There was no time to ponder, “Why did you lead us to build?”. Notice, God’s word to the leaders! God miraculously provided for the missions organisation and the additional funds to help the prostitutes and their families, with many turning to Jesus, baptised and part of a local church.
Lord, grow our faith in you!