1 Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. 2 He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. 4 What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.”
1 As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him.”
People, including Jesus' disciples, often made assumptions about “why” some Galileans had been killed by Roman soldiers or a man had been blind from birth. “People often assumed that, at least in many cases, those who suffered were being punished for sin.” * Jesus’ reply in both cases showed that he knew that God does not cause tragedy and suffering as divine punishment or object lesson, that evil can strike at random. Jesus was not interested in assigning blame, but in bringing healing.
- Much of our legal language calls floods, tornadoes and other disasters “acts of God.” If, as Jesus taught, collapsing towers or killings by foreign soldiers are not “acts of God,” what does cause them? What do you think Jesus would tell a grieving relative of someone killed in this type of tragedy? If God did cause events like destructive hurricanes or children’s deaths from disease or violence, wouldn’t that mean we are working against God’s purpose if we seek to prevent or relieve the victims’ suffering?
- In John 9, Jesus resisted the disciples’ effort to sort out whose “sin” was to blame for the man’s blindness. He instead looked forward to how God’s power could work in the man’s life. What difficulties and challenges are you facing? How can you open “the eyes of your heart” to recognize and respond to God’s power at work in and through you, in hard times as well as good ones?
Lord Jesus, when bad things happen you weep with me, because our world’s sickness and violence grieve you. Teach me to trust that you are not the source of my pain, but the one who promises healing and hope. Amen.
* Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Location 233562). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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Ashley is the High School Pastor at rezlife Leawood. After seven years of higher ed in religion, she finally understands that she can't figure out God (no matter how hard she tries). She’s leaning into the challenge to move from a thinking-based faith to loving God with both her head and heart.