“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Reflection: Suffering and Sin
By John Tillman
Jesus taught his disciples that they were wrong about tragedy and wrong about sin. His words don’t at first seem comforting.
“Repent or perish,” he says. It’s not that “they” were sinful, it is that “all” are sinful.
We don’t suffer for sins. We suffer in sin.
The disciples had a hard time letting go of the cultural idea that people who suffered were suffering because of their own sin. So do we.
We cling to this idea today because we feel less responsible for problems in the world when we can believe that only the lazy are poor, only the promiscuous are in danger of sexual assault or disease, only hedonists become addicts, and only nihilists suffer depression or have suicidal thoughts.
Our culture prefers to explain sin and suffering by pointing the finger at individuals. We prefer to believe that people are basically good and that evil is an aberration. Scripture offers a more realistic truth—that there is no one righteous. No not one.
Our culture also is ill equipped to deal with suffering or death. When the only joys one acknowledges are limited to this life, anything that shortens life or even makes life less comfortable is evil.
But Jesus wasn’t threatening earthly death or suffering. Earthly suffering or death holds no terror for those holding on to Christ and his cross. Our fear of death and suffering is directly related to how tightly we are clinging to things of this world for our hope.
When it comes to sin, we like to picture ourselves occasionally getting splashed with it as if we were on the shore of the ocean. But a better analogy is that we are drowning, forty fathoms deep in sin. Every part of us is soaked and our lungs are being crushed by the pressure of sin’s weight.
Our hope is not that others more sinful than us will attract God’s wrath and allow us to live comfortably in this life. Rather, there is a sinless one who chose to suffer on our behalf and who grants us his righteousness. He lifts us from the depths and no matter our sufferings in this life, offers us a new and restored life in him.
Whatever tragedies we face, we can do so with a partner in Christ, setting our face toward our Jerusalem of suffering, knowing that Christ will walk with us every step.
Prayer: A Reading
He was telling them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the power of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him. — Mark 9.30-32
Exodus10 (Listen – 4:44)
Luke 13 (Listen – 5:02)
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Read more about Meaning In Suffering
In secular culture the meaning of life is to be free to choose what makes you happy in this life. Suffering destroys that meaning. — Tim Keller
Read more about Light and Dark and Joy :: Joy of Advent
When the disciples and religious leaders saw the man born blind, they saw only sin. Jesus saw God’s glory.