The Roman governor, Pilate, executed some people from Galilee in the midst of their ritual offerings. How could such a challenging providence have ever taken place? Some of those who were with Jesus asked Him about it and He also mentioned the sad fact that a tower had fallen on eighteen people “and killed them.” What was the point of these tragedies?
Our Lord replied with a question: “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others?” The lesson to be learned from such horrific events was not that the Almighty considered those who died to be bigger transgressors than their neighbors. “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Everyone deserved the sentence of death and should turn from sin toward God.
All of the sons and daughters of Abraham were called to trust the Lord, reject every path of unrighteousness, and “bear fruit” for the divine Master of the “vineyard.” The Son of God came to inspect His Father’s covenant community, and He found them to be a society of “hypocrites” who were very ready to condemn Him and justify themselves. Nonetheless, He was determined to begin a new worldwide kingdom that would never fail despite a beginning that was as small as “a grain of mustard seed.”
To gain a secure position in the family of Yahweh a person would have to “enter through the narrow door” of Jesus and His powerful Word of grace. There would be “many” who were sure that their own piety and religious works would win them a place among those approved for eternal blessings. They would miss the significance of the suffering of the Messiah who would soon “perish” in “Jerusalem.” His death would achieve an atonement that would provide the only possible door to lasting peace with Jehovah.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father, it is time for Your worshipers to repent. You know our sins, for Your Son atoned for all our evil. We need to produce fruit worthy of the cross with sincere gratitude for Your healing work in our lives. When we were lost in unbelief and transgression, You saw us in our deplorable condition and gave us life. Show us the wonder of Your kingdom, so that we might reject self-righteousness and turn toward You. What shall Your children do when we are angry with those we are called to love? Grant us a true change in our souls by the power of the gospel. Christ’s church must have something more than external religion. Please forgive us and help us, making us more like Jesus.