Luke 13:1-5, “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Dear brothers and sisters-in-Christ,

Last Thursday Japan was struck by a huge tsunami after a powerful earthquake. So far, more than 10,000 people have been killed and the colossal damage across a wide area will take months and years to recover. Through modern media’s live coverage, we can see the disaster unfolding right before our eyes. The death toll after the earthquake and tsunami is still on the rise and as I am writing, news from CNA records of another explosion at a nuclear plant and this has caused concern of what could be another disaster for the people. Whenever a tragedy strikes, it is to be expected of even Christians to ask, “Why is it that the loving God allows such a tragedy to happen?”, “Did God single out some people for what they did and punished them with horrible deaths?”, ” Are people in Japan morally much worse than we are?”,” Or were they innocent victims because they were found to be in the wrong place and at the wrong time when the tsunami swept across their path?”

If the Lord Jesus were here today, how would He respond to such a tragedy?  Will He respond in the same way as He did at His time?  In Luke 13, some came to Him with the latest news about Galileans killed in the temple by Pilate’s soldiers. Those that brought the tragic news were keen to hear what Jesus would say about those who died. Jesus said, “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans?” Jesus then brought up an incident in the village of Siloam. Over there, the tower under construction had collapsed and eighteen people were crushed to death. “Were they worse sinners than all in Jerusalem, saith the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Lord wanted the people to know that a human tragedy was not necessarily a divine judgment. But if man’s approach to any tragedy is thinking that it is God’s judgment to sinners, then they had better repent because all men are sinners and worthy to be judged. It is easy to say why people die tragically without realizing that in the first place they had no right to live by reason of their sins. Therefore, we must not be quick to say that those who are gruesomely murdered, those who will  die of AIDS, those who are going bankrupt, those whose children are born deformed are wicked people and we are not. The Lord’s lesson to us in Luke in a few words is, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish!” The call to repentance is ultimately to heal us and to restore us to God. But an unexpected death of another is a reminder to us to repent. Often, the wicked in this world will prosper and the righteous to suffer. However, the wicked without repentance will suffer everlasting punishment. But to the righteous, what would appear to be unfair and unjust treatment in this life will be made fair and just in the after-life. But who are the righteous?  They are those who are standing before God through the cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you washed in the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb and having garments that are spotless and as white as snow?  Pray for Japan if you will, especially the Christians in the affected area who have lost their relatives and having to face the cold weather without ample food, shelter and clothes.

Pastor Douglas Ho