Do you believe that when something bad happens to you, God is punishing you for something you did wrong? In Jesus’ day, many Jews held such a belief (see John 9:2-3), partially because numerous passages in the Old Testament speak of God’s punishing the Jews for their misdeeds.
Jesus, however, teaches that God simply does not punish persons for specific misdeeds or reward them for specific good deeds. In Matthew 5:45, he says that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” This, of course, does not mean that God does not punish persons for their sins, but only to say that God does not engage in “tit for tat.”
The text for today clarifies this point. Jesus denies that those who were killed by Roman soldiers or by a falling tower were being punished by God for certain sins. He adds, however, that all of us are equally sinners and will indeed “perish” – unless we “repent.”
By “perish,” Jesus is referring to the final judgment that he will render on us all, and his point is that this verdict will not be determined by our good or bad deeds, but by whether we have repented of our sins and asked for his forgiveness. In short, there is really only one sin for which God punishes us—our refusal to repent and believe in Jesus as our Savior. Praise God!
Ellis M. West