|"The Tower of Siloam." Edward Riojas|
(Year C, Lent 3, Ecclesiastical Art CD)
Death and destruction. If it bleeds, it leads. The Jerusalem events made huge headlines in Jesus’ day, but Scripture spares us the particulars.
Luke 13 records a sensational event that is mashed together with another equally-disturbing news item — both brought up while Jesus was preaching to crowds on topics of interpreting the time and settling accounts with accusers.
Being eager to add a bit of input to Christ’s sermon, a few in the crowd brought up the rather horrific account of Pilate adding martyr’s blood to Jewish sacrificial blood. Apparently, the crowd’s attentiveness was waning. Apparently, they wanted to hear about something more juicy than interpreting the time.
It is human nature. No one but fallen man so richly relishes wallowing in the sins and foibles and misfortunes of his fellows. We have this morbid attraction to brokenness. In our misguided quest to fix things, we also love to place fault where we think it belongs.
Thus, Jesus brings up another event that surely was a topic of their discussion: The collapse of the tower of Siloam. One must be living under a rock to not feel a twinge of recollection from 9/11. Christ then asked a rhetorical question that was a bigger news flash for His audience: “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 live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
While our fallen state and the compounding of our sins certainly doesn't help our brokenness this side of Paradise, the tragedies of this life are not the direct result of specific sins. In some corners of Christendom, however, this is news, indeed. It may be because the Lord did indeed bring punishment upon specific sins of the Israelites. However, your unemployment and your flat tire and your failing grade and your diabetes and your chemotherapy have little, if anything, to do with some heinous sin. Those of you who beg to differ probably have a bigger argument with the Lord.
If the truth be told; if Divine punishment was doled out with such ferocity for our sin, then more women would give birth to ashes. We are that inbred with sin.
The rude question of “What sin did you commit to merit this?” is poorly aimed. A much better question is: “What did I do to merit Christ’s righteousness; what did I do to merit salvation?” In both cases, the answer is the same: Nothing.