Skip to content

Luke 13:1-9 – Terrorism and Towers

Someone came and told Jesus about some current events – an event of terrorism and the structural collapse of a tower. The former was caused by Pilate, the Roman governor, who mingled the blood of some fellow Galileans with the blood of their sacrifices. The latter caused by the tower of Siloam falling and killing eighteen people.

In both cases Jesus critiques the worldview of his contemporaries. They believed that good things happened to the righteous and bad things were an expression of God’s judgment on sinners.

Hence Jesus asks whether the victims of these tragedies were worse sinners than others. Jesus answers with an emphatic ‘no’. He then warns his hearers that unless they repent, they will experience a similar perishing.

From this we learn that bushfires, hail, plague etc. are not specific judgments of God on particular individuals for their sin. The righteous as well as the unrighteous suffer these things – although their suffering is of a different character. Much of the specifics are in the hidden will of God which is not know by us. Nevertheless, Jesus warns us that the loss experienced in these things foreshadow a greater loss to be experienced in a future judgement of God. For this reason, natural disasters, serve as an expression and sign of judgement to come and thus necessitate repentance.

The above leads Jesus to tell a wisdom story (a parable) about a man who had fruitless fig tree. The man proposes to cut it down due to its failure to produce fruit over a three-year period. The fig tree is given one more year and will have manure dug into the ground around it. If after that time it fails to bear fruit then well and good, otherwise, it will be cut down and presumably burnt.

The wisdom story reflects Jesus’ contemporaries who saw his ministry and heard his words. Despite this they have not responded to Jesus’ warnings of a coming judgment i.e. produced the fruit of repentance. If they do not respond to further care expressed in his death and resurrection then the Jewish people will be uprooted from their land in judgment (70 A.D.).

The wisdom story teaches the need to repent and therefore connects with Jesus’ earlier take on recent news events described above.