Sunday July 13, 2008 | Greg Boyd
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “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."
Tragedies happen. This world is far from God’s ideal, and we must be ready to respond in God’s way when we find ourselves in difficult situations. Jesus shows us some clear ways to think and act so that we don’t fall into traps of judgment or guilt when life doesn’t work out the way we want. We also must remember that even though God doesn’t cause painful situations, he can always bring good out of them.
When this focus passage is set alongside Luke 13:11-16 and John 9:1-3, we see Jesus’ clear teaching on the nature and source of tragedies that we face in this life. The basic message is that tragedies happen and normally people get caught up in their judgments because they assume that tragedies are a result of God’s punishment. Jesus refutes this kind of thinking as he diagnosed sickness and harmful events as consequence of our demonic bondage. He never questioned how and why she was afflicted this way. He is only concerned about bringing healing and redemption to the situation. This leads us to three practical responses to tragic situations that we face in our own lives and in the lives of those we know.
I. In the face of tragedies, collapse all judgments.
We live in an unfathomably complex war zone where we know next to nothing about the exact reasons why specific tragedies occur. We know that if we weren’t a race of rebellious sinners and if the world wasn’t oppressed by Satan, there’d be no tragedies. Ultimately all infirmities and natural disasters result of our letting Satan into this world. Now he corrupts everything. Beyond that we don’t know why specific tragedies impact specific people. Bad stuff just happens and therefore no one is in any position to judge
anyone else. We must respond to tragedies, whether personal, weather related, medical or any thing else without a sense of judgment because we don’t know the reason for the tragedy.
II. In the face of tragedies, just respond.
Figuring out how or why particular people face tragedies is neither possible nor necessary. We just need to learn to respond. Let these tragedies remind you of how iffy life is. Let it thus remind you of your own need to get right with God NOW. Instead of judging, Jesus often responded with prayer to bring healing and deliverance to tragic situations. This also applies to tragedies or infirmities that we have brought on ourselves. We do not need to get caught in the internal loop of judging ourselves. We need simply to respond, to ask forgiveness, to learn to act or think differently, and to move on.
III. God’s Response is Always Healing
All infirmities, whether physical, mental and spiritual, are ultimately the result of this world being demonically oppressed. All broken relationships, whether in families, social networks, racial division, or between nations, are ultimate the result of demonic oppression. God’s desire is to heal and restore us, individually and relationally. This is what Jesus came for: to liberate us from this oppression and restore us to the wholeness God desires. This is the Kingdom, where God reigns and people, family and society are whole.
1.How have you judged others because you assumed a tragedy was the result of something they did?
2. How does this war zone perspective change your view of tragic situations?
3. How did Jesus respond in the three stories highlighted in the sermon?
4. How does self-judgment actually act hinder the healing God wants to bring into your life?
5. Are there situations in your life or in the lives close to you that need God’s healing?