A. GREAT TRAGEDIES AND PERSONAL TRAGEDIES BRING QUESTIONS
ABOUT GOD AND CONDEMNATIONS OF GOD
1. Great Tragedies of the past 60 years
a. Where was God in the Holocaust of the Jews by
b. How could God allow the war in Biafra in the
early 1960’s ?
c. How could God allow Communist dictator Pol Pot
kill a quarter of the population of his own
people, the Cambodians, during the Killing
Fields time of the early 70’s?
d. How could God allow the Hutus in Ruwanda to
slaughter 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days?
e. What about the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur
region in the past 20 years?
f. Where was God on 911 back in 2001 ?
g. Where was God when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast
h. Why did God allow the tsunami to devastate
Malaysia in 2005, killing hundreds of
2. Personal tragedies strike home as much or more
a. Why did God let my child die?
b. Why did my husband or wife get killed in that
c. How could God allow my loved one to have a
stroke at such an early age?
d. It doesn’t seem right that my loved one should
go through so much pain and suffering?
e. Why did they have to die so young?
f. Why should such a good person as my loved one
die when so many wicked people live/prosper?
g. Why did this have to happen to me?
B. WE CAN RESPOND TO LIFE’S TRAGEDIES IN SEVERAL WAYS
1. Initially we go into something like shock and denial
(this is not really happening)
2. Instinctively we try to find something we can do to
help (however small)
3. Questions worm their way into our minds and
sometimes lodge there and fester into an attitude
of resentment and accusation:
a. Where was God in this? (Not on the scene doing
His job, obviously!)
b. What is He doing? (This is not good; no way
is this good)
c. Why did he let this happen? (Why didn’t He
d. Isn’t God supposed to be good and loving and
caring? (No way this is good or right!)
e. He’d better have some good answers!
C. HOW DID JESUS RESPOND WHEN PEOPLE QUESTIONED HIM ABOUT GOD’S WAYS?
1. Jesus corrected the wrong thinking of the accusers
regarding the victims
2. Jesus turned the tables on the accusers and called
them to repentance
3. Jesus then warned them to hurry in their repentance!
4. SUMMARY–God’s way of dealing with His accusers is
the same in both testaments
II. DEFENDING THE WAYS OF THE HOLY GOD TO SINFUL MEN (Luke 13:1-5)
A. 1ST–JESUS CORRECTED THE WRONG THINKING OF THE ACCUSERS REGARDING THE VICTIMS
1. Our text deals with two current events of people
dying premature deaths
a. Pontius Pilate sent troops into the Temple to
quell some disturbance and things got out of
hand and when the soldiers were through, there
were dead Jewish worshipers lying on the ground
clutching their dead sacrificial animals.
b. The tower of Siloam stood in Jerusalem where
two walls met. The tower was either still under
construction or was being refurbished. Whether
the tower itself or the tower and the
scaffolding fell we do not know, but when the
dust settled, 18 people lay dead.
c. The first tragedy involved human agency–a
wicked ruler and his troops killed people
without just cause. It was a man-made tragedy.
d. The second tragedy involved “an act of God”
supposedly. Nobody planned it; the tower just
fell. An insurance adjustor would label it as
an “act of God” which did not involve human
e. NOTE: The tragic collapse of buildings in Haiti
had a contributing cause besides an earthquake.
Substandard housing and building codes allowed
unsafe buildings to be erected. Safe buildings
cost more to build. Poor people can’t afford
them and short-sighted and/or poor governments
cannot afford to build them. By contrast, the
San Francisco earthquake of 1989 was of the
same magnitude and took only 63 lives and
injured 1700+ and destroyed only 3000+ homes.
Sub-standard residential and commercial
buildings were major contributors to the
carnage in Haiti.
2. It is a common error to suppose that people in
tragedies are involved because they are worse
sinners than others and the tragedy is God judging
a. Jesus had to confront that mentality more than
b. John 9:1-2–bystanders wondered why the man was
born blind–was it his sin or his parents?
c. Jesus said that their sinfulness did not enter
into the reasons why it happened.
3. Here in Luke 13, Jesus says, “NO, these victims were
not worse sinners than other sinners”
a. There is not a one to one correlation between
sinning and a shortened life or premature death
b. We cannot make that automatic deduction
4. How did our Lord answer their question?
B. 2ND–JESUS TURNED THE TABLES ON THE ACCUSERS AND
CALLED THEM TO REPENTANCE
1. Verses 3 and 5–“No, I tell you, but unless you
repent you will all likewise perish.”
a. Jesus told those asking hard questions of God
that God was asking them a hard question.
b. Jesus was not going to defend the ways of God
to sinful men BUT He was going to tell sinful
men that they are under obligation to God, not
c. God was not on trial with sinful men sitting
as the Judge and Jury.
d. Sinners have been tried before the bar of God’s
justice and found guilty of cosmic rebellion,
being rebels towards God, breakers of God’s law
as an example of their rebellion, thieves who
regularly rob God of His glory and seek to take
it for themselves, and haters of God who refuse
to honor God as God but instead want the 1st
place in everything. (So Romans 1 argues.)
e. Their guilty verdict earned the sentence of
divine judgment and eternal condemnation.
2. Jesus is saying that you are no position to judge
God for anything that happens.
a. You are a creature and do not see the big
b. Your little slice of reality is not the whole
c. Your little slice of reality is twisted by your
own sinful bias and inner rebellion against
d. Your inner moral compass has its calibration
ruined by sin; too often you love that which
is evil and hate that which is holy and good.
e. The Bible puts it in everyday language–the
clay is in no position to judge the potter
3. So rather than Jesus jumping through hoops to
salvage God’s reputation with sinners, Jesus turns
the tables and tells sinners that they had better
repent of their sin or else they too will perish.
C. 3RD–JESUS THEN WARNED THEM TO HURRY IN THEIR REPENTANCE ! (13:6-9)
1. Our Lord tells a parable of a fig tree without fruit
on it to relay urgency to His hearers!
a. God is not impatient and petty; He is long-
suffering and patient.
b. The farmer does not plant the fig tree for fun.
He plants it and takes care of it that it might
yield a harvest of fruit at the proper time.
c. A pecan tree farmer knows that a typical pecan
tree begins to bear fruit in 12-15 years.
(What is called an Indian Pecan Tree can
produce harvestable fruit in 7-10 years.)
d. To expect fruit before that would be impatient
e. Fig trees take 3 years to bear a harvest of
f. The appropriate time has come but still there
is no fruit on this fig tree.
g. To the farmer/owner, this unfruitful fig tree
is just taking up soil, water, manpower and
time when there are other trees worthy of
h. If there is no fruit, then cut the tree down
and replace it with one that will bear fruit.
2. The vinedresser pleaded with the owner for a little
more time for him to work on the fig tree.
a. He agrees that the fig tree has not born fruit
as it should.
b. He promises to work with this fig tree a
little bit longer and see if it will yet bear
c. In the end he agrees that a fig tree without
fruit is of no value.
d. (You don’t have tourists drive by orchards of
fig-less fig trees to watch them change
colors in the autumn!)
3. Unrepentant sinner, God is giving you just a little
more time to bear fruit.
a. How many times has God let you hear the truth
about yourself and you have not repented!
b. How many times has God let you heart of the
beauty and glory of Christ but you will have
none of it?
c. How many times have you heard devotionals or
had someone speak with you about Christ and
you remained stubborn in your pride and love
f. How much has God already invested in getting
the truth to you and still you rebel against
g. God did not spare ancient Israel who had a
couple of thousands years of God’s investment
in it yet they would not repent!
h. If God judged ancient Israel for its despising
its privileges, how much more will God judge
i. “but if not, cut it down” is meant to be a
picture of judgment. No more pruning the
branches; no more trimming the leaves, time to
get out the axe and the chain saw and cut it
down–at the root. It will waste my time no
D. 4TH–SUMMARY–GOD’S WAY OF DEALING WITH HIS
ACCUSERS IS THE SAME IN BOTH TESTAMENTS
1. Listen to God as He rebukes Job regarding God’s
handling of Job’s personal tragedy
a. Job 38:1-21–God rebukes finite Job for his
proud 2nd guessing of God
b. Job 40:1-8 is God’s rebuke to Job’s questioning
c. Job 40:9–41:34–God’s continued rebuke to Job
d. Job 42:1-6–Job’s final response to God’s
extended rebuke (“I am way over my head on this
one, way over my pay grade; it’s not up to me
to 2nd guess the sovereign, wise and holy
2. Listen to God as He rebukes sinners regarding God’s
way of handling man’s need of salvation–
a. Romans 9:14-24–in explaining God’s plan of
salvation of sinners, Paul knows people who
question God’s plans and question His character,
especially His goodness, justice and mercy.
b. Verse 14b–“Is there injustice on God’s part?”–
the doctrine of God’s sovereign election to
save some guilty sinners does not make God
unjust because He does not save all guilty
sinners! It is a credit to His sovereign mercy
that He chooses to save ANY guilty sinners, let
alone a great multitude that no man can count!!
(1) Rebel sinners accuse God of being unjust,
unfair, and not letting them choose.
(2) But if left to themselves, none would
choose God, none would seek Christ, all
(3) God is not unjust because He chooses to
be merciful to many while not being
merciful to all
(4) It is a reminder that God is God and is
the final authority
(5) Verses 15-18 bear this out.–God is
sovereign and graciously saves whomever
He chooses and for His honor and glory
c. Another questioner in Verse 19–“Why does He
still find fault? For who can resist His will?”
(1) “But who are you, O man, to answer back
to God?”–you are nobody; you are just
a creature I made and in no position to
answer God back on anything!
(2) God throws everything back in the face
of the proud questioner seeking to put
God to the test and make Him stand
before the bar of sinful man’s justice.
3. The Bible’s answer to our questions about God’s ways
is to repent of our pride, shut our mouths and
submit to what God has revealed of Himself in His
a. God has chosen to reveal Himself to His
creation (Psalm 19 and 139 and Romans 1)
b. God has revealed Himself in nature–but sinful
humans twist what they see of God & suppress
c. God has sent prophets to speak to men for God-
-and they rejected the prophets
d. God sent His Son, Jesus, and they rejected Him
and killed Him
e. God sent His Son’s Apostles, messengers with
authority, to speak and write about who Jesus
is what Jesus did, and what He will do–and
they killed all but John!
f. God calls and send preachers to tell whoever
will listen about what God has said in His
Word, the Bible.
g. God Himself has said in this written
revelation, the Bible, that He has chosen not
to tell us everything we might want to know.
III. DO YOU HAVE HARD QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT GOD HAS DONE OR IS DOING ?
A. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE A CREATURE WITH ONLY PARTIAL PERSPECTIVE–WHO ARE YOU TO QUESTION ALMIGHTY GOD ?
B. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE A SINFUL CREATURE AND YOUR AIM IS TO EXALT SELF AND MAKE GOD SMALL, FOR YOU TO RUN THE SHOW AND GOD BE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOU !
C. SOOOO, GOD CALLS YOU TO REPENT OF YOUR PRIDE (a creature dictating to the Creator), YOUR SELF-WILL (your refusal to live life God’s way and wanting only your will
to be done)
D. CHRIST SAYS TO REPENT NOW OR YOU WILL NOT BE READY WHEN HE COMES FOR YOU SOON (& you still refused His working in your heart and life)
E. WHAT ABOUT THE DEAD AND GRIEVING IN HAITI ?
1. The dead had nothing to say when they stood before
Jesus Christ as their Judge!
2. Believers could only rely upon Christ as their
stand-in, their Savior–He knows who are His!
3. Unbelievers, whether they died peacefully in their
sleep or terrifyingly with a building falling
down around them, had nothing to say to Christ who
judged them in all truth and justice.
F. “NO, I TELL YOU, BUT UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU WILL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH!”