Why did they need to die? They were going to worship their God and to offer prayers. They were going to a place that was a sanctuary for them. They weren’t hurting anyone. Why did they have to die? We’ve all heard about the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty Muslim worshipers were killed for what? Worshiping at their local Mosque?
These kind of events happen all to often. In this case we rightly blame white supremacy and hate which is grown around the world. We also blame access to high powered guns. We blame mental health as the problem. Yet the question, “Why did they need to die?” never gets answered because the victims at Christchurch didn’t deserve it anymore than anybody else.
Some brought to Jesus’ attention the Galilean worshipers whose blood Pilate stirred in with their sacrifices. “Were they any worse sinners?” he asked. The answer was, “No.” Then Jesus urged them to repent and not perish. He also brought up those killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed on them. “Were they any worse sinners?” Again, Jesus answered saying, “No.” Once more came the urgency to repent and not perish.
Jesus’ answers are not all that satisfying. We want to believe that you get what you deserve. When a mass shooting happens, we know better than to blame the victims. They were innocent. When an accident brings death, we shake our heads wondering ‘why?’ So we are frightened because life suddenly seems very fragile. The reality of death is much too close. Jesus urges us to put our attention in a different direction to the One who is the author and giver of life.
Jesus came to show us that God’s response to sin is forgiveness and death is overruled by resurrection. There is nothing easy about the cross of Jesus Christ but it is the way that the hand of God reaches down to the grave and pull us out to life.
Jesus called for repentance which is nothing less than a total transformation of thinking. We get out of the thinking we get what we deserve. The victims get what they deserve. The hurt we do to others we justify as something they deserve. Reality is that we don’t always get what we deserve. Life is very fragile.
Jesus is urgent for our repentance and a turn to God who gives us forgiveness and life. We don’t deserve this either. This is why we call it grace.