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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

(Luke 13:1-9)

By Delbert Young
(video audio page)
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Scriptures: Luke 13:1, Luke 13:2-5, Luke 13:6-9, Luke 3:9, Luke 13:34-35

I want to ask all, if there is a loving God then why do bad things happen to good people? When they happen have you ever thought or asked, "Is there a God? Does he allow bad things to happen?" Taking it a little further, does God judge people for their sins by allowing or causing bad things to happen to them? For example, the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, or the tornado a few years ago in Ringgold, where was God? Why did God allow that? We all remember 9-11. Or, Dr. (a stretch in the title) Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist who murdered babies born alive. Where is God concerning horrific things?

When bad things happen to good people, or to innocent babies and children, we tend to question God's sovereignty and if he is loving and cares. And, of course, with the question of "why do bad things happen to good people" the assumption bad things should happen to some people. Is this how we should think and build our understanding? Do you know any people bad things should happen to?

Add to these thoughts how in our age we are bombarded with tragedies in humanity. The truth is if we didn't live in this age, we wouldn't know of most of the horrors, disasters, and catastrophes. The tragedies of the globe are brought before us every day through the media causing people around the planet to question every day where is the loving God Christians talk about.

The Jews had/have a deep theology on this continuing to hang around today. They believe when bad things happened to people God was judging evil. The book of Job tells about a man named Job who went through horrific times. In a very short time thieves, fire, and weather annihilated his wealth. A tornado killed all his children. He became ill with awful boils and sickness. He had a crazy wife who blamed him for it all. She said Job should just curse God and die. To top it off, Job's best friends told him the reason he was experiencing horrific tragedies was he'd sinned and God was judging him. This was their theology then and it hangs around today. Do you have any of Job's friends? How about Job's spouse? With this said, let's take a look at a portion of today's study.

Luke 13:1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

A massive crowd of many thousands (12:1) gathered. Jesus spoke to his disciples concerning the yeast of hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He finally turned to address the crowd (v.54) telling them they were good meteorologists, but hypocrites when it came to God. They acted as if they were awaiting the Messiah of God. He stood in front of them and they rejected him. A day was coming when they would pay the last penny (12:54-59). At this point some told Jesus, obviously with the "Why?" question, about a tragedy at the temple. (Maybe they got an email, tweet, or text - kidding.) Some disturbance took place in Jerusalem and Pilate ordered the slaughter of people from Galilee who were in Jerusalem while offering animal sacrifices worshiping God at the temple. What's up with that? Why did God allow this to happen to good people worshiping God?

Luke 13:2-5 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."

It doesn't matter where you live - Galilee, Jerusalem, LaFayette, Ringgold, Oklahoma City - stuff happens. Does it happen because these were worse sinners than other Galileans? I like how he didn't say, "Do you think this happened because they were sinners and guilty." He said, "Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than other Galileans? All are sinners. Jesus also brought up a construction accident where a building fell killing eighteen people. He didn't say, "Were they guilty?" He asked were they more guilty than others?" All are guilty. It's not some people deserve bad things to happen to them. We all do if bad things happen because of sin and guilt.

We see the two primary reasons people ask the "Why?" question: 1) the deliberate actions of man injuring and killing such as war and violence; and 2) accidental tragedy and we could include illness, disease, and natural disaster. Why does God allow bad things to happen? Did God allow this because they were worse sinners than others and more guilty than others? Jesus answered with a resounding "No!" on both aspects. He didn't go into detail, but he lets us know bad stuff simply happens. It's not because God is judging them.

For some reason it's easier to see God punishing people than God loving people. It's easier to see God punishing people with tragedy than loving people through tragedy. We tend to associate what's happened, or happening, in our lives to our standing with God. I've done this. How about you? Jesus said the tragedy happening was not because the person was a worse sinner or more guilty than someone else. When we allow this thinking, we create a monster God. Sadly, this theology causes people to think this way.

There is cause and affect meaning, for example, a drunk driver crashes into another car and kills people. It wasn't God who was drunk. There are things we do to ourselves causing injury. It's not God doing it. God does not create paraplegics and orphans and widows. Does God know it happened? Of course he does. Could he have prevented it from happening? I'm certain he could. This is where faith and trust in God comes in.

Jesus told his disciples over and over bad things were going to happen to them because of their faith and belief in God. The message of Jesus was not "Do not be afraid. I will not allow bad things to happen to you." The message of Jesus was/is "DO NOT BE AFRAID WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN." That is the confidence and faith and trust in God Jesus wants each of us to live in. Love, faith, trust, and confidence in God overshadows fear, confusion, and doubt and brings hope.

Jesus did say, "But, unless you repent, you too will all perish." So, there is a connection in here someplace. No, God does not bring/cause tragedy because of sin and guilt, BUT God is involved with the tragedy of not repenting. The word repent is metanoeo {met-an-o-eh'-o} - to change one's mind, i.e. to repent, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins. What can you alone do about your past sins? Can you in and of yourself work your forgiveness? No. Only Jesus can and will. There's only one Savior. Unless people change their minds concerning the savior they too will all perish. That's the ultimate tragedy!

The truth of God's judgment is not a calamity happening. The true judgment and calamity happens when people do not repent. People will die. We don't know when. We don't know how. We just know we will. A building could fall in Jerusalem two thousand years ago killing eighteen people, or fall in Philadelphia killing six last Thursday. A tornado could hit Job's family three thousand years ago killing all his children, or hit Oklahoma City last week killing twenty. Those are sad tragedies, but not nearly the tragedy it became if those people had not repented. Was it God's fault they didn't repent before the tragedy? No. And it's not God's fault when bad things happen. "I tell you, No, but..."

Luke 13:6-9 Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. CUT IT DOWN! Why should it use up the soil?' "'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, FINE! If not, then cut it down.'"

What? What's that got to do with bad things happening? Have you ever heard the expression "Living on borrowed time"? It references someone escaping death to live another day. What it means is someone is alive who by all logical reasons should be dead. Have you ever escaped death? I have. Then you're living on borrowed time. Why? Fruit! You're the fig tree.

It refers to all of us. We all could be dead, but we are not. We could have died at birth. We could have died in infancy. We've all avoided death likely on several occasions through life. It is conceivable we could all be dead and possibly in hell. Jesus projected to the crowd Pilate's soldiers didn't kill you. The tower didn't fall on you. God's allowed you to be dug around and fertilized to live a little longer. What will you do with your time? Will you produce? Will you repent?

Jesus gave examples of two characters, the man who planted the vineyard and the man who took care of the vineyard. There is also a barren fig tree in the grape vineyard. A fig tree was a valued commodity, so a good place for a fig tree would be in a vineyard where it could be watered and watched. In frustration and disgust, the owner said, "Cut it down!" He came three years to find figs, but there were none. Why is it even alive taking up space? Have you ever wondered this about someone? Ever wonder if people think this about us? Aren't you happy Jesus says let's try a little longer?

Luke 13:8-9 "'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'LL DIG AROUND IT AND FERTILIZE IT. If it bears fruit next year, FINE! If not, then cut it down.'"

The word fertilizer is kopria {kop-ree'-ah} - dung, manure. It's interesting God's solution is to dig and spread dung. Every felt as if something was digging at you? Every felt like stuff going on around you stunk and was dung? It was. Stuff happens. God uses it to bring fruit of repentance. Inside manure is nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and all sorts of components to cause growth, life, and productivity. Do you get it?

The word "fine" is not in the original manuscripts. If you look at the KJV you will see it's translated "well" in italics meaning the word is not there. It would be more like, "If it bears fruit next year, (shrug shoulders)! If not, then cut it down." It's "I've done all I can do." And, that was the end of what Jesus had to say to this massive crowd of many thousands (12:1). I suppose Jesus either walked away, or said something like, "Thank you for coming. See you next week." At any rate, it was a dramatic ending. That's how Jesus ended a sermon.

John the Baptist said about three years earlier,

Luke 3:9 THE AX IS ALREADY AT THE ROOT OF THE TREES, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be CUT DOWN and thrown into the fire."

That tree was living on borrowed time with dim hope. Jesus wanted to try one more time. The primary implication to the conclusion of Jesus' sermon would be Israel. It was placed in God's vineyard, but was barren. He came year after year and time after time to gather fruit, but there was none. John the Baptist laid the ax ready to strike, but Jesus wanted to try. Look at verse 34 of this same chapter taking place only days from when we are studying.

Luke 13:34-35 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

It's like you won't see me again until you experience the ax. They were on borrowed time. But, it's not speaking of only Judaism and his generation. It deals with every nation and with every person. Every individual must deal with Jesus Christ. Every individual is on borrowed time. A time will come when each of us will be examined for the fruit of repentance. We are all given a little time. Are we living on borrowed time? Or, are you living on eternal time producing fruit?

 

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