Luke 13:1-5

The Offense of the Gospel Message
Luke 13:1-5
Intro: Jesus addresses the problem of human suffering and evil in this section. He is Himself a Galilean, and He is on His way towards Jerusalem. The fate of the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with the blood of their sacrifices, like that of those who perished in the fall of the tower of Siloam, becomes a symbol for the coming fate of all who will not repent.

Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Pilate was the Roman governor of a troubled distant province, and his position was always unstable.

Some residents of Galilee had evidently gone up to Jerusalem to worship and had been put to death by the governor as they were in the act of offering sacrifice. That their blood had mingled with that of their sacrifices was a particularly repulsive detail.

It is difficult to see what could justify an execution at such a moment.

This incident fits in with what we know of Pilate’s character. He was ruthless and cruel. Many massacres marked is administration, especially against Samaritans. He also raided the Temple treasury for funds to build an aqueduct.

The fact that the people “told” Jesus about the event implies that he was not at Jerusalem when it happened.

The announcement has the ring of a current event that would be “breaking news,” so Jesus seizes its recency to illustrate truth.

Jesus has just been telling them about God’s judgment. Did they tell Him about the deaths of these Galileans because they approved of what happened to them? Or did the inform Him because they were troubled at the threat of the Romans?


No doubt Pilate considered these Galileans guilty of some considerable political crime, and Jesus could have commented on the rights and wrongs of their cause.

After all, His earthy parents were devout Galileans who faithfully traveled to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God.

But instead, His comments depart from the standard Jewish association of calamity with sin.

Job 4:7 Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?

Psalm 1:4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Jesus does not dispute such a connection, but He does suggest that these people were no more sinful than others.

Luke 13:2 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?”

It was commonly held that disaster was a punishment for sin.

So, Jesus immediately makes the point that these Galileans had not been singled out for a dreadful death because they were worse sinners than others.

He calls on His hearers to repent, otherwise they will be doomed.

He moves the focus away from judgment of others with His call to put their own houses in order.

Luke 13:3 “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Christ told His informants to look within themselves and to think about their own standing before God.

Our Lord seems to say, “What if these Galileans did die a sudden death? What is that to you? Consider your own ways. Unless you repent, you will perish in the same way.”

When He says “likewise,” He can scarcely mean that they will be killed in precisely the same way. The point is that the way these Galileans died gave them no time to repent. It was unforeseen.

What does it mean to repent?

To understand what it is, we must first eliminate some false ideas about repentance.

What it does not mean:

(1) apologize

2 Cor 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

(2) regret

Heb 12:16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
Heb 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

(3) remorse

Matt 27:3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Matt 27:4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
Matt 27:5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

What it does mean:

(1) change your mind about who Jesus is

Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Repent and be baptized in the name of the very One you rejected and killed!

Luke 9:18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
Luke 9:19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
Luke 19:20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

Without repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ, nobody can be saved.

(2) change your mind about sin

J.C. Ryle – We are fond of sin and are naturally unfit for friendship with God.
1 John 3:5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
1 John 3:6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Should we continue to live in sin to prove how wonderful God’s grace is?

Rom 6:2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Repentance demonstrates itself to men by a complete break with sin. It results in habitual deep hatred of all sin.


Luke 13:4 “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?”

While, earlier, we were dealing with an act of a cruel leader and perhaps of people who seemed to “asked for it” by their political activity, now we are to think of “an act of God” falling randomly on those who just happen innocently to be there.

The same judgments apply.

The tower of Siloam was likely near the pool of Siloam in the southeastern corn of Jerusalem. The accident described here is not mentioned outside the Scriptures, which is not surprising, since it was an “accident” and not an “incident.”

We are not to suppose that the 18 people who died in this tragedy owed God a greater debt because of their sins. In no way were they worse offenders than those who remained.

Jesus refuses to attribute tragedy (v.2) or accident (v.3) directly to a person’s sin as the Jews often did.

John 9:2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
John 9:3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

But their fate is a warning to His audience of the urgency of repenting.

Through these words the Savior teaches that physical disasters, like physical advantages, are no indication that those who experience them are either worse or better than their fellow men.

It is not right to believe that God is angry with a man because He removes him suddenly from the world.

Matt 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Acts 24:15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God

Jesus had already announced God’s favor on the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the crippled (Luke 4). That in itself should have broken any insistence that a person’s financial, social or physical condition is always a direct reflection of his spiritual state.

In fact, that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered at the hands of lawless men should have buried forever the connection that argues that anyone who suffers must be the worst kind of sinner.

Christ affirms the sinfulness of all people.

He does not eulogize the victims of the tower collapse. Instead, He seizes the opportunity to appeal for salvation to the unrepentant living rather than relegate them to the memory of the noble dead.

Luke 13:5 “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Repentance is both a once-for-all event that shapes the whole subsequent course of the life and a day-by-day affair that keeps putting sin away.

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Acts 3:20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before

Observe the connection between regularly repenting and hastening the Return of Christ!

If we have already repented, let us go on repenting to the end of our lives.

A wise old saint once said, “I hope to carry on my repentance to the very gate of heaven.”

Philip Henry – “Some people do not like to hear much about repentance. But I think it is so necessary, that if I should die in the pulpit, I would wish to die preaching about repentance; and if I should die out of the pulpit, I would wish to die practicing it.”

Because God is Sovereign…

(a) Karma does not exist

This is the teaching that the fate of individuals in this life is either a reward for good or punishment for evil in a former life.

Destiny is appointed by God.

Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
Heb 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

(b) What goes around does not always come back around

Evil deeds are not invoices to the universe that will be remitted for punishment.

The law of the harvest belongs to the Lord.

Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Disaster and judgment are not synonyms.

That is, those who encounter tragedy are not necessarily those whose wickedness had qualified them for it.

Difficulties comes to the faithful, while many wicked people seem to “get away” with their acts of evil.

1 Tim 5:24 Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later.
1 Tim 5:25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.


The Gospel is glad tidings, but only for those who leave the way that leads to perdition and come to true repentance. Those who remain unconverted are heading for inexorable destruction.

The fate of these people in the text is a reminder not of their sins – they were neither better nor worse than many others – but of the urgency of the Gospel.
It was a warning that sudden death was a real possibility. The only way to prepare for it was by repenting.

Had they only known what was astir, had they been warned what kind of mood Pilate had been in, or had they been notified that the building was dangerous, they might have saved their lives.

But there was no one to warn them, and they perished.

So this generation, according to Jesus, is walking politically and religiously – straight for disaster. But the warning has been given, first by John the Baptist and now by Jesus. It is a warning to change direction before it is too late.