“…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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” – Luke 13:4-5, ESV
A few days ago, we were shaken by the news of a random, senseless attack at the North Vancouver library. Many people began to wonder, “If it is possible to get stabbed, or even killed, in a library, is any place safe?
Our inner being cannot help but cry foul at such injustice. Evil does not always manifest itself in such a dramatic manner. It often hides itself under “socially acceptable” behaviours like greed, promiscuity, killing of the unborn, pride or egoism to name just a few. Also, evil does not always hit so close to home. We might have gotten used to hearing of dozens or even hundreds of people killed in places like Myanmar, Afghanistan or Yemen. Even if people subscribe to the idea of humans being basically good with a few bad apples here and there, they cannot deny the fact that this world is plagued with evil. The Bible tells us that the whole creation is “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22, NIV) as it sees all the evil and injustice constantly going on everywhere. Although we might not see or pay attention to some of that evil, none of it goes unnoticed by God who is just and who cannot leave evil unpunished. It is important to remember that God, being absolutely holy and just, must punish all evil, from that which is utterly abhorrent in the eyes of our society to that which is fully acceptable in our society, yet remains abominable to God.
Two thousand years ago, people asked themselves very similar questions. Certain “socially acceptable” evils prevailing in that time and culture would be absolutely repugnant in modern-day North America and vice versa. Why would Pontius Pilate kill innocent Galileans who simply brought animal sacrifices to their God? Why such an injustice? Jesus’ answer was simple, yet terrifying for many. There is no way of escaping death and judgment, except for…
Except for what? Repentance! This week we are celebrating the events that made this exception possible. While the problems of injustice, judgement, and death are insurmountable for us they were not for Jesus. Jesus, the fully innocent One, paid the infinite and ultimate price by taking upon himself the punishment that was rightfully ours. All we need to do is repent and submit to Jesus’ lordship. It is God’s free gift to us, and even though we still cannot escape physical death, Jesus’ sacrifice allows us to escape the much more serious trouble of God’s wrath. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
– Alex Vergeychik