Siloam, Repentance & Covid 19
Updated: Mar 25
Times of danger and calamity can cause us to ask the most important questions in life. ‘Is there life after death?’, ‘Is there a final judgement?’ and ‘Can I get saved?’. The spread of the coronavirus can remind us of our own mortality and bring eternity into sharp focus. This is a good thing. We live life as if it will go on forever, but neglect important eternal matters. Times of trouble can shake this up a bit. The Bible tells us – “prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12), this is especially relevant today.
Similarly, in the days of the Lord Jesus, an act of atrocity and a natural disaster caused people to ask him why suffering happens. The local governor in Jerusalem had just authorised the slaughter of worshippers in the temple, and the tower in Siloam had accidentally fallen and killed 18 people. The age-old question arose – ‘why?’.
Times of trouble not only remind us of eternal matters, but they demand a clear, unambiguous and practical response. The Lord Jesus in his reply did not baffle his audience with philosophical reasoning but rather gave them direct warning of eternal suffering. He says:
“Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5).
The Lord Jesus intimates that these were not instances of God’s specific judgement (although God can still intervene in such a way). In a fallen world, suffering will occur. The Lord Jesus uses these local examples to springboard into a lesson for eternity. He says in essence that present day danger and suffering should act as a warning that eternal judgement is coming. The Lord’s audience, and we today, wrongly assume that we are exempt from God’s judgement. However, the Lord says that unless we repent, we perish. In simple terms, to perish is to be judged in Hell eternally. The Bible further adds“it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The audience also assumed that it is only bad people that deserve judgement; however, the reply of the Lord makes clear that we (and they) are all bad – “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” – it is only bad people who need to repent.
We think of ourselves as good people because we compare ourselves to each other. However, this is the wrong benchmark to measure against. God measures us against his own perfect and holy standard concluding; “there is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12). We are all bad people compared to God’s measuring line because – “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).
We think of a sinner as a criminal on the news, however a sinner is anyone who has broken God’s law. Every lie, every lust and every word of blasphemy is a violation of his law, making us guilty lawbreakers. God is an infinite judge and every sin we commit against him his infinitely serious and deserving of infinite judgement. We are in a very precarious situation.
Currently only 0.004% of the world’s 7 ½ billion people have tested positive with the Covid 19 virus and 0.0001% have sadly died. Probability might be on our side. However, we have no comfort from probability with the issue of sin because 100% of us are affected and unless we get saved 100% of us will be judged eternally. This utterly hopeless situation is deserving of your consideration because it affects you directly.
In contrast to the Covid 19 virus sin has a confirmed cure. The cure to sin is not in a vaccination, religion or pleading ignorance but is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. God in his rich grace has provided the answer to our sin problem. The Bible says:
“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus on the cross 2,000 years ago paid the price for our sin. He shed his blood to pay for the law that we had broken. Because he has paid the price, God now offers forgiveness to every sinner who will repent and believe in the Lord Jesus.
If a vaccine is found for any illness it still needs to be applied by the individual. A vaccine is worthless left in a container – unapplied and unused. Likewise, the provision of the Lord Jesus on the cross needs to be applied to our lives, we simply have to repent of our sins and believe in him and we will be saved.
The crisis of sin demands a clear and urgent response, the Lord Jesus warns us that “unless you repent you will all likewise perish”, but today if we believe in him, we can be rescued for eternity.