Suppose ye - From this answer it would appear that they supposed that the fact that these men had been slain in this manner proved that they were very great sinners.
I tell you, Nay - Jesus assured them that it was not right to draw such a conclusion respecting these men. The fact that men come to a sudden and violent death is not proof that they are especially wicked.
Except ye repent - Except you forsake your sins and turn to God. Jesus took occasion, contrary to their expectation, to make a practical use of that fact, and to warn them of their own danger. He never suffered a suitable occasion to pass without warning the wicked, and entreating them to forsake their evil ways. The subject of religion was always present to his mind. He introduced it easily, freely, fully. In this he showed his love for the souls of people, and in this he set us an example that we should walk in his steps.
Ye shall all likewise perish - You shall all be destroyed in a similar manner. Here he had reference, no doubt, to the calamities that were coming upon them, when thousands of the people perished. Perhaps there was never any reproof more delicate and yet more severe than this. They came to him believing that these men who had perished were especially wicked. He did not tell them that “they” were as bad as the Galileans, but left them to “infer” it, for if they did not repent, they must soon likewise be destroyed. This was remarkably fulfilled. Many of the Jews were slain in the temple; many while offering sacrifice; thousands perished in a way very similar to the Galileans. Compare the notes at Matthew 24. From this account of the Galileans we may learn:
(1) That people are very prone to infer, when any great calamity happens to others, that they are especially guilty. See the Book of Job, and the reasonings of his three “friends.”
(2) that that conclusion, in the way in which it is usually drawn, is erroneous. If we see a man bloated, and haggard, and poor, who is in the habit of intoxication, we may infer properly that he is guilty, and that God hates his sin and punishes it. So we may infer of the effects of licentiousness. But we should not thus infer when a man‘s house is burned down, or when his children die, or when he is visited with a loss of health; nor should we infer it of the nations that are afflicted with famine, or the plague, or with the ravages of war; nor should we infer it when a man is killed by lightning, or when he perishes by the blowing up of a steamboat. Those who thus perish may be far more virtuous than many that live.
(3) this is not a world of retribution. Good and evil are mingled; the good and the bad suffer, and all are exposed here to calamity.
(4) there is another world a future state - a world where the good will be happy and the wicked punished. There all that is irregular on earth will be regulated; all that appears unequal will be made equal; all that is chaotic will be reduced to order.
(5) when people are disposed to speak about the great guilt of others, and the calamities that come upon them, they should inquire about “themselves.” What is “their” character? What is “their” condition? It “may” be that they are in quite as much danger of perishing as those are whom they regard as so wicked.
(6) We must repent. We must all repent or we shall perish. No matter what befalls others, “we” are sinners; “we” are to die; “we” shall be lost unless we repent. Let us, then, think of “ourselves” rather than of “others;” and when we hear of any signal calamity happening to others, let us remember that there is calamity in another world as well as here; and that while our fellow-sinners are exposed to trials “here,” we may be exposed to more awful woes “there.” Woe “there” is eternal; here, a calamity like that produced by a falling tower is soon over.
This chapter is based on Luke 13:1-9.
Christ in His teaching linked with the warning of judgment the invitation of mercy. “The Son of man is not come,” He said, “to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:56. “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17. His mission of mercy in its relation to God's justice and judgment is illustrated in the parable of the barren fig tree. COL 212.1Read in context »