"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...? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." - Luke 13:4-5
By now, we all have heard of the horrendous catastrophe that occurred on an otherwise pleasant Monday afternoon during the running of the Boston Marathon. Somewhere around the 4th hour of the race, there at the finish line, two bombs suddenly erupted into the crowd watching the race injuring hundreds and killing at least three people they know of at the time of this writing.
A similarly tragic event took place in the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. News had apparently come of another disastrous event where a tower, the tower of Siloam, which most commentators believe was still under construction at that point; suddenly fell over, crashing to the ground, bringing eighteen people to an abrupt and immediate demise.
Jesus used this recent incident to teach His listeners an important spiritual lesson. The Lord Jesus took this opportunity to speak to the necessity of repentance. He said unless those who heard His voice and answered His call to repentance, they too would also perish. So, what are we to make of our Lord's analogy and how can we apply His lesson to the recent events in Boston?
Well, I would say in at least two ways. First, Jesus seems to be saying everyone deserves to die, just as those under the tower and those at the marathon did, if we were dealt with according to our sins. The Bible says it is appointed once for man to die, then judgment. Death is the natural result of the Fall and the entrance of sin into the world. Death is a sober reality which every man must eventually face. The brevity of this life and the tender shoot from which is arises should make us ever mindful of life's frailty.
Second, Jesus seems to point us to the uncertainty of tomorrow. In His choice of examples choosing a tragic accident over that of say, a natural death, our Lord seems to imply in His words that men are not promised tomorrow; that today is the day of salvation, of deliverance; that unless men everywhere repent of their sins before our holy God and turn in faith towards Him, we all are without hope.
While the tower of Siloam fell 2000 years ago, the explosions which rocked Boston occurred only a few days ago. With this terrible situation fresh on our minds, may the words of Christ’s timeless and fearful truth settle into our hearts and minds - all men everywhere deserve to die, and unless you repent, you too will likewise perish.
"[H]e who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” – Jesus
Jesus Christ was a staunch advocate of the 2nd Amendment. In fact, in the quote above taken from the Bible (Luke 22:36), Jesus, with a strong sense of urgency, tells His devoted followers to do whatever is necessary to arm themselves for their own safety. He even goes so far in stressing His point, that Jesus commands them saying, if you don’t own a sword, sell your clothes to buy one! These are certainly the words of someone who earnestly believes in the principle and right to keep and bear arms.
Yet, with the recent string of highly publicized shootings across the country by the mainline media, people have begun putting irrational passion over prudent principle. There is a rampant short-sightedness to the tragedies before us. We want to stop the killing of little children (and who doesn’t?) but we are willing to risk the future of our nation and its posterity to do so. One of the first lessons in firearms training is to never discharge a loaded weapon in a fit of passion or emotion. Why then, would we leave the fate of the 2nd Amendment in the hands of an overly charged emotionally loaded milieu?
Like the good hound dogs they are (no offense to hound dogs everywhere), the pundits and politicians in Washington have picked up on the scent of this passion and they are doing their very best to feed its fury. To them, the issue of gun control remains a matter of votes, power, and influence. To them, the issue is not about guns, it is about control! If they can be seen as the activists leading the way towards stricter gun control laws, then it means they remain “top dogs” in the eyes of an uninformed populace.
Samuel Adams once said the Constitution should, “… never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the… rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms". Adams, in this quote regarding the liberty of men, was only reflecting the sentiments of our Lord Jesus Christ when He authorized His disciples to arm themselves for protection. The 2nd Amendment is a right of the American so that these exact kind of sentimental passions do not override sound principles during seasons of testing.
At the end of the day, what Jesus said 2000 years ago is still the best advice. If you don’t have a sword (gun, weapon, whatever!) do your best to arm yourself. It is your freedom to do so. It is your duty to do so. Your family and our future may depend on it. The 2nd Amendment was wisely introduced into the founding document of our country to ensure your abiding right to keep and bear arms would not be easily undone by the tide of time, emotion, circumstance and yes, even tragedy.
Hope, joy, peace, and love. Those are the four themes which should surround the Advent season. We've looked over the past couple of weeks at the ideas of both hope and joy. Hoping in the Lord, and rejoicing in the Lord. Today, I want to bring you a message about peace. And I don't know that of the four themes, that peace is the most elusive. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find true spiritual peace. It's like by nature we are restless, anxious, and unpeaceful. But as we look again to the Christmas story, that great account of our Savior's birth, we find that Jesus came to bring peace on earth. Luke 2:14 says,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
The birth of Jesus was to bring glory to God in the highest. It was the Lord's crowning achievement, the virgin birth of God's own Son, born unto men, that by Him, man might be saved. And then our verse goes on to speak of peace on earth. Yet, this is interesting and in many minds could raise a serious question. If the birth of Jesus, the birth of the Christ child, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into this world, was to bring peace on earth, then why do we still see so much conflict in the world?
The Bible says in Isaiah that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And if the Prince of Peace has come, if He truly was born of the virgin, born in Bethlehem, born in that manger, then why do we see so little peace. Turn on your television. Everywhere men are waging wars, conflicts ensue, political debate and controversy fills, not only our own nation, but all the nations of the world. I read recently that there are more wars going on right now in the world, than at any other time in the history of the entire world. How can we, as Christians, as followers and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ reconcile this truth with the truth that Jesus is truly the Prince of Peace and has ushered in peace on earth and good will toward men?
Well, I believe the answer lies in this: The peace that Jesus Christ brought into the world was not necessarily peace between man and man, but between man and God. The peace promised in the coming Messiah was not a social peace, a political peace or a national peace, but a spiritual peace. Now I do think that from spiritual peace, other kinds of peace can flow. If you have spiritual peace between yourself and God, you can find peace between neighbors, relatives, and friends.
But spiritual peace is the source of all other true peace. Ronald Reagan once said, "Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means." True peace come from inside. We will never find true peace in this world. True peace is an inner rest, an inner calmness which allows us to deal with world around us from a spiritual perspective. We should not define peace as the absence of conflict, but the ability to deal with conflict the way Jesus would - after all, He is the Prince of Peace.
I know for me, sometimes an issue will come up, and I'll get frustrated, and I'm trying to deal with this thing, or this person, or these people, and I don't seem to be getting ahead, and I get flustered, I 'm trying to not get angry when I finally realize... I serve the Prince of Peace! Calm down. Think about what's going on, and deal with the conflict peacefully, in a way that God would. Because Jesus brought peace into my heart, because I have peace with God in my life through my faith, I can handle the conflicts of this world with peace.
Jesus brought peace into the world, not by resolving every issue or conflict you will find yourself in, but by providing a way to find peace for your soul, a spiritual peace that only come from above. A peace, like a dove, the peace of the Holy Spirit residing in your heart. And with the presence of God in your life, and the peace of Christ abiding in you, it equips you, and prepares you for live a life pleasing and acceptable to Him.
One of the reasons I think peace is such an allusive thing at times, is that we seek peace in things other than God. We seek it in friends, family, or other activities. And these are all good things. But only God can grant us everlasting and eternal peace, Only in Christ, the Prince of Peace, can we obtain to, what the Bible says, is a peace that surpasses understanding. Do you have the peace of God? Do you realize the birth of Christ means you can have the peace of God? I invite you to come to know the Lord as your Savior, your Redeemer and your Friend. Then you too can come to have the Peace of God.
Luke 9:49- 50 "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
The following wisdom comes to us from J.C. Ryle:
Who this man was and why he did not consort with the disciples, we do not know. But we do know that he was doing a good work in casting out demons, and that he was doing what he did in the name of Christ. And yet John says, "we forbade him." Very striking is the reply which the Lord at once gave him: "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us thousands, in every period of Church history, have spent their lives in copying John's mistake. They have labored to stop every man who will not work for Christ in their way, from working for Christ at all. They have imagined, in their petty self-conceit, that no man can be a soldier of Christ, unless he wears their uniform, and fights in their regiment. They have been ready to say of every Christian who does not see everything with their eyes, "Forbid him! Forbid him! for he followeth not with us."
The plain truth is, that we are all too ready to say, "We are the men, and wisdom shall die with us" (Job 12:2). We forget that no Church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom, and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us. We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the Gospel preached, and the devil's kingdom pulled down, though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like. We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ, and yet for some reason may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do. Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified,—no matter who the preacher may be, and to what Church he may belong. Happy are those who can say with Paul, "If Christ be preached, I rejoice, yea and will rejoice," (Phil. 1:18) and with Moses, "Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that all did prophesy." (Numbers 11:29)