Monday, May 18, 2020

The Fear of Death in a Pandemic: What Would Jesus Say?


Bacteria, viruses, most any disease is no respecter of persons. The SARS-COV-2 is no exception. It’s as ubiquitous as sin. It will kill you if it can. You don’t know when it will come just like death. If someone ask Jesus what did we do to deserve this pandemic? He would probably answer the same way he answered people in the 1st century when they asked him a similar question.

In the Gospel of Luke, Luke records for us an encounter Jesus had with a group of people he’d been preaching to.

Luke [13:1] There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? [3] No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. [4] Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? [5] No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

People back then are not much different than people today when it comes to trying to understand death and suffering. Death and suffering were a sign of God’s judgment catching up with them because they sinned and thought they might have gotten away with it. In today’s culture someone might call it karma.

In the gospel of John we read this same sentiment. 9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

So these people that were talking to Jesus thought the Galileans who were killed by Pilate because of something they did wrong. How do we know they were thinking like this? Because of the way Jesus responded to their inquiry. “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?” Jesus then adds another example of people dying to the conversation, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?”

If we’re paying attention we can see that the examples of people dying in the exchange are one by human hands and the other by accident or unforeseen circumstances. You see Jesus is wanting people to think differently about death and how it come to us. He wants to dispel the notion that God is taking part in these people suffering and death. Why? He says, "No, I tell you.."  We live in a fallen world. Things go from order to disorder. This was brought about by humanity rejecting God as their sovereign and wanting to go it on their own. In other words Sin. Sin brought death and suffering into the world and humanity suffers from the consequences of sin whether willfully or accidentally. It is inevitable. Death is inevitable.

Jesus tells them that these people died not because God directed Pilate to kill them or God reached down from heaven and flicked the tower with his big divine invisible finger. He said “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” 

In other words, whether on purpose or unforeseen circumstances death is inevitable so prepare yourself now before it's to late.

Jesus wanted them to see the conclusion of their argument: if God does punish sinners in this way, then they themselves had better repent because all people are sinners! The question is not, “Why did these people die?” but, “What right do you have to live?” None of us is sinless, so we had all better get prepared. Prepared for what? The final judgment that everyone will face.

In the same way viruses and disease that kill us are a result of a fallen and broken world around us. They are not some divine judgment that God has unleashed on the world however, Jesus would say to each and every person alive today REPENT because physical death is inevitable whether by a virus or some other means, after that the judgment. If you are not right with God you will be subject to the ultimate death, separation from God for all eternity in hell. Jesus said, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Luke 12:5

Don’t fear a virus, fear God and get right with Him through His son Jesus. That’s why Jesus came to rescue all from the final judgment, to rescue all from the fear of death. Jesus took on himself the judgment for all humanity on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to face God's judgment or what the bible says His wrath. Then He rose from the death to prove who he was and the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. If you are willing to repent God wants to forgive and give you the gift of eternal life and pour out his Holy Spirit into you soul.

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