The Death or the Life: Luke 13:1-9

Focus Passage: Luke 13:1-9 (NIV)

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 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.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Read Luke 13:1-9 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One thing that always amazes me about Jesus is how He is able to avoid the traps and tricks of the Pharisees and other religious leaders. Time and time again Jesus sidesteps their logic and shares an even greater truth.

This passage doesn’t have a clear “Pharisee Trap” present, but Jesus does take the perspective of those present and redefines it. Like most interesting dialogs, some people bring Jesus a statement or question and wait to hear His response. Luke 13 begins by saying, “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.(verse 1)

These people may have wanted to simply inform Jesus about something bad that had just happened, or perhaps they were warning Him to consider moving His ministry to a different location, but in either case, they were asking for Jesus to give a response to this information. Like Jesus usually did, instead of responding directly to the surface statement, He responds to the underlying concept and perspective.

The subtle trick that is present here is not seen in the statement, but instead in Jesus’ response.

One thing those present were trying to pin Jesus into saying is that how one dies is more important than how they lived. The thought among those present seemed to be that one’s type of death, especially if they were killed while worshiping, would overshadow any wrong they had done during their lives.

The other big thing that those present were trying to get Jesus to say was that the type of death that someone experienced was directly a result of the type of life they had lived. It stood to reason that those who died early, especially if it was an “accident” like a tower falling, must have been hiding worse sins that only God knew about and that He determined it good to punish them for it.

These are the two sides to this seemingly innocent piece of news – and Jesus sees right into the preconceived ideas and into the trap. So Jesus takes the opportunity to shift the perspective of each side of the trick. Continuing in verse 2, we read, “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 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.’(verses 2-5)

First Jesus steps in and brings the implications to the surface. Is how one dies a revelation of how they lived? Does the type or time of death matter?

Then Jesus gives us the big truth: How one chooses to live from this point forward determines their ultimate destiny. Unless repenting, which means turning away from sin and towards God, is a part of your path forward, you will face the same fate. The amount/level of sin in our lives is not as important as the one we put our faith, hope, and trust in to deal with the sin that has stained our past.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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