Tower of Siloam
James Tissot – The Tower of Siloam

Luke 13 starts with a section labeled “Repent or Perish”. Seems a little dramatic, doesn’t it? But there’s some serious stuff in this passage, including an examination of why bad things happen and whether we can or should make judgments about the spiritual state of those affected by these tragedies. 

Repent or Perish (Luke 13)

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Jesus references two horrible tragedies: 1) Pilate’s murder of some Galileans while they were in the act of worshiping, and 2) the fall of the Tower of Siloam, a building in Jerusalem that collapsed, killing 18 people. He asks His listeners whether they should conclude that those killed were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem. I find it interesting that rather than leave this as a rhetorical question, Jesus gives them the answer. Let there be no room for interpretation here – the answer is no! At the same time, He urges those listening to repent so they do not perish, too. It’s important to note here that “perish” isn’t a reference to physical death, but to the final judgment.

The point of this passage is that disasters and tribulations can serve as a reminder that our lives are short and we don’t have forever to accept the gift of salvation. In Psalm 103, we read that “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” We should live every day to the fullest, knowing that our goodness (or lack thereof) doesn’t safeguard us from suffering or physical death.

How will you live today to its fullest?


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