Why Them?

When people die, whether individually or in a group, we sometimes ask ourselves the question, “Why them?”, or even “What did they do to deserve this?”

This seems to be especially true when people die in numbers from a senseless act of violence, or some large accident.  We tend to ask the question, “Why them?” or “What did they do to deserve this?”

This is exactly the question that some posed to Jesus in Luke chapter 13:1-5:

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 the 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 begins relating some current news events they were obviously familiar with.  These events depict people who died from different, but strange, events.  The first example, is where the act of Pilate caused the deaths of a certain number of Galileans.  The second example expands this concept to include those who died an accidental death when a tower fell on them.  The importance of this passage is at least two-fold:

  1. Just because things happen to people doesn’t mean they have done something to deserve it.
  2. Repentance is the key theme here.

But, there is something else here that is puzzling.  And the mystery is tied to the terms ‘perish’ and ‘you too’.  In the King James Version, it is put this way, “ye shall all likewise perish.”

This is a great mystery.  It might even be thought to meant you might die the same way these died if you neglect to repent, but that doesn’t make sense does it?  This word ‘perish’ is the key to understanding what Jesus is saying.  We mostly identify that word with ‘die’, and that is probably correct, but there is a secondary meaning that is the key to this whole passage.  From this passage Jesus apparently dismisses the physical death we are so easily preoccupied with.  If we could accept it, we might understand this passage better if we simply said, “Look, everyone dies, and that is not the important thing.  It is not even important how one dies.  Everyone in the world is concerned about those things, but that is not the important thing.  Unless you repent and become saved, you will die a second death.”

So, this word ‘perish’ means something different than dying a physical death.  It is the spiritual death He is referring to.  This is the ‘perish’ in this passage.

If this is the case, then why do we put such importance on the ‘physical’ death?  I suppose it is because we cannot see beyond the curtain.  The curtain being the death of the body, and releasing of the spirit.  Since we cannot see beyond the curtain of life, we focus more attention on what we can see and what little we have learned in this life.  Jesus was trying to use news events of the day to show what things are most important.  And, although, we have trouble with this – He basically said in this passage, and others, don’t worry about the physical death, but be concerned about the spiritual death (perish).  This is referred to in Revelation as the ‘second death.’

Those who have surrendered their heart to Christ, and have repented, are delivered from the second death.  They will not perish.  In other passages Jesus even said they will not die.  Of course, we know now He was not referring to their physical death, but to their spiritual death.

During Jesus’ three year ministry, He raised many people from death to life.  But, later these same people died again.  How tragic, unless ……   Yes, that’s right, unless physical death is not what we should be focused on.  In fact, Jesus never once put a negative reflection on physical death.  The closest Jesus came to expressing grief about physical death was when he wept at the grave site of this friend Lazarus.  When news of Lazarus’ death reached Jesus, Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus was ‘asleep.’  When His disciples misunderstood, He said frankly, “He is dead.”  This was a needed clarification because they were thinking only in physical terms where when someone dies, that is the end.  But, in the spiritual realm when someone dies physically, they are simply sleeping.

So, in summary, physical death is common to all.  Spiritual death, however, is a matter of choice.  Whether we live or perish is in our hands.


One Response to “Why Them?”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    Excellent blog and good to be reminded! Blessings…

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