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Sermon March 20 2022

Lent 3 C 2022 The Galilean.

Luke 13:1-9


Have you read or watched the news lately?  If you have you might have thought to yourself that the world is falling apart.  War in the Ukraine.  The pandemic is still with us.  We have high inflation.  High gas prices.  Empty shelves at the stores.  I could go on and on. 

Well, whenever there is bad news or a tragic event, people start to ask questions and go and look for someone to blame for the awful event(s). 

We ask, “Why did this happen?”  And “What was the cause of this horrible event?”  And then we look for someone to blame.  We blame the perceived perpetrator, or the victim, or even God Himself when dreadful events occur in our lives.  

But all this is nothing new.  People back in Christ’s day also speculated about why bad things happened to them.  And they too tried to assign blame for the tragic events that occurred in their day.  We see this in their question to Jesus when they asked: “What about those Galileans?” 

Out text begins: “At that time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.”  Now that sounds pretty gruesome.  What is going on here? 

Apparently, there were some Galilean Jews who had traveled to Judea, to Jerusalem, for the religious holy days.  And while they were in Jerusalem, they went to the temple to offer sacrifices and pray.  But for some reason, Pilate suspected that these Galilean pilgrims worshiping at the temple were up to no good. 

So, what did Pilate do?  Pilate sent some of his troops into the courtyard of the temple and struck the pilgrims down as they worshipped.  And then the blood of the slain pilgrims was mixed in with the blood of their animal sacrifices. 

What a horrible way to die.  And what an insult to the Jewish people.  For you see, for the pagan Romans to desecrate the sacred holy grounds in that way, to go into an area where Gentiles were not allowed to go, to defile the holy sacrifices, to slaughter Jews going about their religious duties; well, this was just outrageous.  In fact, this was unheard of.  

The more the people reflected upon it, the more they came to realize that the pilgrims must have it coming to them.  That their deaths were a result of “divine karma” for sins that they had committed.  The reason we can say this is because such a thought is implied in the way that Jesus answered them.  

Jesus responded “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way that they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?  No, I tell you…” 

And then Jesus brings up another “news story” about people dying.  Jesus said to them “What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you…” 

In reply to the folk’s conclusion that these events were a result of divine justice, Jesus responded to their conclusion by twice stating “No, I tell you…”  “Unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did” 

In other words, take these sudden deaths as a warning.  If death is based on being sinners, then you yourselves ought to take heed.  For you too are sinners. If you think that it is a matter of divine justice, then you ought to be concerned about how you would fare in a similar situation.  

God is not on trial here.  We are on trial.  And the question is “How do we stack up when measured against God’s holy law?  And the answer, my friends, is not very well.  Therefore, unless we repent, we all will perish, and we all will be forever separated from God. 

Just as the gardener who instructed the owner of the vineyard not to cut the fig tree down, God does not want us to be separated from Him either.  

The Gospel in a nut-shell states “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world might be saved through Him” John 3:16-17 

Jesus of Nazareth, the man from Galilee, the One traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem for the High Holy Days, for the Passover, is going right into Pilate’s backyard.  And Jesus will be the Galilean whose blood Pilate will mingle with his sacrifice. 

Indeed, Christ’s blood will be the sacrifice.  His Holy Blood will cleanse us from all our sins.  Jesus, the sinless one, will take all of our sins and pay the final sacrifice for them. 

Jesus, the Galilean, will suffer under Pontus Pilate.  He will be crucified and buried.  And He will descend into hell and on the third day rise again. 

And so, the Good News for you today is that there is no more divine judgment to be levied against us.  Our sins are forgiven.  If bad things happen to us, and bad things will happen, it will not be because God is condemning us and sweeping us off to hell.  No. Because of God’s atoning sacrifice, you and I will rise up out of the depths of despair and live with Christ our Savior forever.  For Christ has conquered death, and He has paid the price for our sins.  Therefore, let us give Christ thanks and praise.  Amen. 

Let us pray:  God of compassion, when we are weighed down by the burden of our sins, help us to remember that you do not forsake us, but show mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.