Thursday, March 08, 2007

Help me... #2

OK. I'm preparing for a sermon on Sunday. And again, I'm looking for help. So I'm not quite in the same desparate position I was three weeks ago. But I have another remarkable text: Click on Luke 13:1-9 which includes these potentially offensive words:

1 There were some present at that very time who told him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
So you can help me by answering any one of the following questions (or making any other comment you desire):
  • Does this text speak to your soul? Your heart? Your life? Tell us about that.
  • Is Jesus being insensitive? Should he go an re-read Job (You know, just sit with people in their innocent suffering, rather than speak up.)
  • Would Jesus be 'roasted' by today's media for making even the smallest link between a tower falling and the need to turn to God?
  • What do you think his hearers were expecting Jesus to actually say?
  • Is there a relationship between Suffering and Repentance? Does the modern church make that link? Why or why not?
  • Is the 'perishing' an eschatological word about Hell? Or is it about the Fall of Jerusalem? Would it make a difference?
  • Is there a relationship between V1-5 and V6-9?
  • Is this good news, or bad news?
  • How would you structure a sermon?
Help me, brethen.


DiscuZion said...

Hey Justin, just a few random, rambling thoughts:

· I don't think Jesus needs to re-read Job. The whole point of Job seems to be that he's suffering unjustly. Here suffering seems to be linked to judgement (i.e. Those who suffer/will suffer deserve it).
This hardly solves the problem, but I do think a line needs to be traced.

I'm not advocating a "suffering = you sinned" equation (and Jesus himself seems to refute that idea in John 9). I think the idea that Jesusi s trying to convey is the fact the present suffering is a mere anticipation of the final(?) suffering that results from judgement.

· Yes I think he WOULD be roasted by the media.

· What did his hearers think he might say?
Maybe something along the lines of: "Those roman pigs! We must hurry along our revolt against them". Maybe this is part of the reason that Jesus reacts the way He does? His answer seem to fall along the lines of, "Hey, no one is innocent here. Don't think that I am here to save you from Rome, I've got bigger fish to fry. I'm here to save you from (your) God Himself" (i.e. God saving mankind from himself).

·I think the Fall of Jerusalem and Hell are quite intimately linked (one foreshadowing the other, maybe?)

· I think it is both good news and bad news. Salvation and judgement always go together for the God of the Bible. DB Knox had some interesting things to say in his article "We Preach Judgement" (Selected Works Vol. I).
The announcement of impending judgement is accompanied by the announcement of repentance. ("Unless you repent"). Also notice the end of the Fig tree parable.

Justin said...

Samuel -- thanks!

I'll comment more soon.

Anyone else care to comment?

michael jensen said...

Well, I thought around the time of the tsunami that even a secular person would have to say - 'here is a reminder for us of our mortality' at least. So, I think that draws the sting from it a little... but he does call it 'judgment', doesn't he? said...


I preached about the tsunami touchin gon this passage. I figured that the Jews were rocked by these 2 events (esp. Pilate mixing the blood) they may have experienced a loss of faith even. That prompted me to head in the following direction. . ..

"Often people may say, 'Suffering shakes my faith'. This in many ways seems a reasonable reaction but it's worth asking it shakes my faith in what? What are we referring to when we speak of faith like this? For many people, faith is a slippery word meaning everything and nothing at once.

On the simplest level to say the Tsunami rocked my faith may just mean that it upset me deeply. And I hope it did upset you deeply. Yet this is a bad use of the word faith, and certainly not the way the bible uses it.

If, when we use the word faith, we are talking about our faith in human nature, that people are basically good, then suffering will shatter your faith. As I said a few min. ago, much of the suffering in this world happens as part of cause and effect. A situation where a drunk person who foolishly decides to drive home and in doing so causes an accident where bystanders die, will shake your faith in the belief that people are basically good. In some of the areas affected by the Tsunami we heard of looting and people taking advantage of those who had suffered. What kind of appaling person would do something like that? Not only so we have to deal with the disaster, but also the mind boggling selfishness of people like this. Now, while it might take us a bit of time to recover from this disillusionment in our fellow human beings, it its no great loss really is it? To discover that people are essentially self serving creatures is not really anything new. This is a simple fact of life that God wants us to grasp on almost every page of the Bible. To place your faith in the goodness of man kind is a very foolish thing to do indeed."

This is more about the tsunami topic than the passage but I was thinking, did the Jewssuffer a tsunami physcological effect from the 2 events mentioned in the passage?

Scott T

Tam Jonker said...

Hey Justin,

I have a matter in Court this morning so I'm thinking about things legal....

Over here defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty (I know you guys have a diffent system so I can't comment on that). What I thought when reading this passage is that Jesus doesn't do that with the Galileans or the 18. In fact, quite the opposite, the presumption is that they are guilty before God - just not any more guilty than anyone else. Also, while he doesn't say that the pubishment fits the crime on one level that is implied.... Not a very pleasant thought, I know!

Benjamin Ady said...

Hey Justin

I like your question about suffering and repentance.

I have learned recentishly to draw a distinction between suffering and pain. Pain ... is what it is. It's inevitable, as a human being. suffering is the stuff we add on top of that--ruminating about the pain, about how unpleasant it is, how unjust it is, etc. I find this distinction useful.

so having said that, I think *sometimes* there's definitely a relationship between suffering and repentance--but I mean "repentance" in a purely secular sense here. We can learn to suffer less by repenting/changing our thinking.

*sometimes* there's a relationship between pain and repentance--but that's a lot more shaky. We can change our thinking/behavior in ways that will reduce our pain, *sometimes*.

But lots of times, NOT!

But I don't get what Jesus is saying here at all. I mean *of* course they will all likewise perish--that is, everybody is going to die. Does he mean that they will die violently before their time? Or does he mean something else altogether? He implies one can avoid what happened to the Galileans and the 18 by changing one's thinking/behavior (that is, repenting). Obviously (I think), he and his listeners would have known death isn't avoidable. So was he saying violent early death is thus avoidable? did his listeners know exactly what he was saying was avoidable, and the reason I don't get it is that I am 2000 years and coutnries and languages away?

Sounds like neither bad nor good news. sounds like confusing news.

Martin Kemp said...

Obviously Jesus uses these events as a warning. This is not to say that all disasters are brought about as warnings (In fact he seems to dodge the question as to why exactly they have happened), but here Jesus seems to use them for that teaching purpose.

When the tsunami happened many preachers I know took Jesus' approach and said "who knows why, but it does tell us to get ready."
However, if we do allow ourselves the conclusion that God's hand was active in at least using the tsunami as a warning then it begs this rather disturbing question: If 300,000 people can die in a tsunami as a warning, then how much more awful will judgment day be?