In Luke 13, Jesus spoke about two calamities the nation of Israel had recently faced: "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish'" (vv. 1-6).
These national calamities were front-page news at the time. Evidently, some Jewish worshipers had come from Galilee, and Pilate had put out a hit on them and killed them while they were worshiping in the temple. When that happened, there were apparently some Jews who thought, Why would God, a God of love, allow this to happen? We can only conclude it's because those were really bad people and God was giving them their just punishment. We're not sure what the other event was, but there was some tower, possibly in the little village of Siloam, that fell and killed eighteen people. Both events were citywide tragedies.
And Jesus asked, "Do you really think these people died because they were worse sinners than everyone else?" It's interesting He didn't deal with the issue of how a God of love could have allowed it to happen or try to explain the problem of evil in the world. That's because everybody dies, whether by accident or old age or in infancy, so death shouldn't be a surprise—everyone will face it. Jesus focused on something even more important: there is something far worse than physical, natural death, and that is spiritual, eternal death.
Jesus' admonition "unless you repent you will all likewise perish" tells me that no one is exempt from trouble in this world. We will all face tragedy. But Jesus' words also reveal that everyone needs to make a decision. Times of crisis ought to make each of us realize we have to make a choice that will affect eternity: "What am I going to do with Jesus and His offer of forgiveness?"
Unfortunately, most people don't ever think about the longest period of their life—the eternal period, living forever somewhere depending on the choice they make as to where that will be. That's why Jesus cut right to the chase: "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Everyone has a need to get right with the Lord and repent. May the trials and tragedies of life remind you of that fact, spurring you on to point others to our gracious God who stands ready to forgive.