We move on from the desert and the mountain to the journey to Jerusalem. Jesus is told about two items of news of the day. These items are not found in secular history. They were important news to the locals. Pilate had persecuted and murdered the Galileans and a tower had fallen at Siloam and killed 18 people.
The locals ask Jesus the question: “Do you suppose those who suffered like that were greater sinners than others”? This was old time belief. It was a big part of Job’s friends’ arguments. Remember they would say that Job was suffering because of the sins of his youth. They constantly called him to repent. They were convinced that God was punishing Job for past sins. Though Job continually denied this, they never gave up. Don’t always listen to theologians!!!!
Here Jesus gives us an insight into his teaching on suffering. Suffering is a mystery. We will never fully understand it. Here Jesus is clear that the death of the Galileans and the construction workers in Siloam had nothing to do with the retribution of God. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesus then gives a short lesson on the events. Be prepared, be ready. “Unless you repent you will all perish as they did”.
Some suffering is unexplainable. Accidents happen. God is not vindictive.
The Fig tree parable is complementary to the above. The fig tree gets a second chance. We all get another chance to bear fruit. Sometimes that takes a good dose of manure!!! It is not always pleasant.
God is patient.
When we read of great disasters in the world or at home, it is not Christian to blame the anger of God. Jesus teaches us that personal sin is not the cause of national disasters. But he hastens to add in the parable of the Fig Tree that there is a limit to God’s patience. As long as we have breath in our bodies we have the freedom to change our ways. We are half way through Lent and we should be conscious of that, especially as we could be at any time in the wrong place. Accidents happen. Be prepared.