Faithlife Sermons

Luke 13 Our Response To Disaster April 2007 am

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Our Response To Disaster: Where Is God? 
Luke 13:1-13:8
Where are you GOD…MY GOD why? Why do innocent people die? Why do godly people suffer? WHERE is God in all this?

Virginia Tech professor gave his life to save students

Liviu Librescu was undoubtedly one of those Americans most aware that last Monday had been set aside as Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.
After all, Liviu was himself a Holocaust survivor. He was only a boy when forced, with his family, to live inside a labor camp the Russians had set up in Romania, and then moved to a ghetto there. He was 15 by the time the ordeal was over, and from that point on, he never took his freedom lightly.
….He became a scientist, a professor, and an immigrant to Israel after Romanian, Communist, persecution against him became too much in his homeland.
 …It was 1985 when Librescu and his wife came to America for a sabbatical, a move that would change his life again. They loved their life in Virginia, and his job at Virginia Tech, so much; they decided to spend the rest of their lives in America.

    On Monday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Professor Librescu was teaching a class when violence and persecution found him again. This time, it was a disturbed student who was systematically murdering 32 innocent and unarmed victims on the Virginia Tech campus.
     According to students in the classroom, the professor and his students heard the gunshots elsewhere in Norris Hall, and realized they were about to be in an extremely dangerous situation. Instead of escaping, the 76-year-old Librescu ran to the door, and held it shut with his body. He urged his students to escape through the windows of the classroom, and they did, immediately.
    After the last student escaped, the gunman apparently won the battle over the door, forced his way in, and killed the professor. But because of his heroic actions, a classroom of young adults lived through the worst shooting massacre in the history of the United States.

Sources: “Virginia Tech professor gave his life to save students,” “Israeli hero professor killed at Virginia Tech,” The Jerusalem Post, Apr 17, 2007.

Why did these young people have to die? Why did any of this happen?

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us that there is
“nothing new, under the sun”. Solomon had searched the world over and had found that “all was vanity”. Likewise satan has no new tricks or schemes.

Circumstances change, technology changes, cities change and landscapes change.

But the devil has come to “kill, to steal and to destroy.”

…He will use whatever means are available to accomplish his goals.
….This is especially true as a frightening picture of the killer emerges: a young man, by all accounts a loner, who, according to the Washington Post, wrote poetry about death and “expletive-filled rants against the rich and privileged.”
Clearly, on the dark side.

As we seek to understand what happened and why he did this, it is vital that we not exclude an important part of the equation: evil.

The Reality of Evil—Chuck Colson

“Faced with this kind of horror, we automatically assume that we are dealing with a madman—a word the media has already used to describe the killer. That’s because we can’t imagine ourselves or anyone we know doing anything remotely like this. Therefore, we conclude that something must have been “wrong” with the perpetrator.

And, since our culture is defined by what sociologist Philip Rieff called the “therapeutic ethos,” the “something” that’s “wrong” must be a psychological defect. Mental illness, not human evil, is our preferred explanation for what happened in places like Blacksburg or Columbine.

I witnessed an extreme example of this therapeutic thinking during a visit to a Norwegian prison years ago. Throughout the tour, officials bragged about employing the most humane and progressive treatment methods anywhere in the world. I met several doctors in white coats.

That prompted me to ask how many of the inmates, who were all there for serious crimes, were mentally ill. The warden replied, “Oh, all of them.” I must have looked surprised, because she said, “Well, of course, anyone who commits a crime this serious is obviously mentally unbalanced.”

Stated differently, there is no such thing as sin and evil, and the only reason why people might commit serious crimes is that they are mentally ill. Thus, the best—and perhaps, only—response to crime is behavior modification and all of those other up-to-date psychological techniques.

While the Norwegian approach would strike most Americans as very naïve, the difference between them and us is one of degree not kind. We also blame crime on external factors, like mental illness, culture, dysfunctional childhood, and the like.

We are uncomfortable attributing events like this to human evil, much less to a kind of evil that seeks to undo God’s creation—what Christians call the demonic”.

Yet without this idea, events like this massacre can never be understood.         We might learn that the killer was “mentally unbalanced” or on anti-depressants. But, absent evidence that he was clinically delusional, this knowledge will not explain why he walked onto a college campus, locked people in a lecture hall, and killed them.

>>>I find it quite comforting to realize that Jesus had some very specific words in response to both a terrorist-style murder, as well as an accidental disaster that happened while He was on the earth!

In Luke 13, Jesus is being tested. His words are on trial as his enemies seek to discredit Him, and make Him an enemy of the state as well as of Judaism.

In Luke 13, His enemies are hatching another carefully crafted “loaded” plot…to trap Him within His own words.
LUKE 13:1-9

We don’t know any further details of this horrific act of terror which Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea had perpetrated upon the people.
   It seems as though in a terrorist fashion, that he may have planted his people within Galilean circles so that they could slaughter a group who were preparing to bring sacrifices of worship to the Temple
This act of terror was likely a punishment or a warning message for some violation, or some “politically incorrect” act of the day.
Its purpose was not only to kill, but to profane the holy sacrifice at the altar of God and to instill terror into the hearts of all who would see!
History shows us that he was a bloodthirsty man with such political aspirations that he was despised even by the Romans!

Josephus the historian speaks of a time when Pilate had his men wiped out a group of Samaritans on their way to worship at their temple on Mt. Gerizim.

Pilate, and all of Rome thrived on terrorism and bloodshed as a means of political control in the first century.

Evil men have always persecuted others-Terrorism is nothing new.

***The devil has no new schemes!

Jesus confronted With the Acts of Terrorism

These men know that Jesus is a Galilean…and it could be an occasion to draw Him out politically. If he would come out in support of His people, then they could accuse Him before Pilate and have Him executed for sedition.

If He answered with sympathy for the Galileans, then He would contradict the popular Jewish notion that all calamity and disaster was judgment from God. Then they would accuse Him of blasphemy.

“who sinned this man or his parents?” it was a common first century Jewish notion that every calamity had its roots in sin.

Have we heard the same thing of late?

Who sinned…was the attack on America judgment?

  • \\ Jesus Answers The Questions:

    Concerning the Galileans murdered by Pilate, and the vicious profaning of the Holy Sacrifices, Jesus asks the question:
    “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no!

    I believe that the truth that Jesus is speaking to us runs along four main thoughts:

    I. Bad things Happen to both Righteous and Evil People
    Jesus says in John 16:33
    “these things have I spoken unto you that in me, you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD."
    In speaking to His very own disciples, Jesus gave a guarantee of trouble! You WILL have tribulation!

    Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45

    “… for He (God) maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    >>Jesus comes back with and example of a recent disaster…something they could all relate to. A tower in Siloam, under construction, fell and killed eighteen laborers.

    Jesus asks:
    Were the people killed in the accident more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?
    the answer, an emphatic NO!

    **We cannot judge people’s hearts or spiritual condition by external events. *

**Good things and bad things come to the just and the unjust.

As we relate this to our world today, we see many who are calling the attacks the judgments of God upon our nation.

While it is true that our society is in decay, and our culture is decidedly post-Christian, and while we do know that God’s cup of judgment does become full…and He does punish evil…

Consider with me the targets:
there were Spirit-Filled Christians killed, there were preachers of the Gospel, there were innocent children. There were also homosexuals, occultists, atheists and all manner of false religions represented among the dead.

The targets held a cross-section of humanity.

We do not have all the information: Judgment is in God’s hands, and His sovereign plan will unfold over the ages.

If we are ready to do this, as the Church, we must also be ready to be judged ourselves.
I Peter 4:16-17

The fire of persecution will judge the house of God, before it will judge the world-system! Are we ready for that? Can we rejoice over it?

This is not to say that there is not a spiritual side to the events!

God is speaking through everything that has happened, and through everything that continues.

II. We Cannot Micro-Analyze God’s Sovereign Plan

God is working in multiple dimensions.

His sovereign plan is like a grand mosaic, and we cannot use a magnifying glass to determine what He is doing in the earth.
For nonChristians:   When we look at individuals, consider that September 11 WAS judgment day for some. It was the Tribulation, it was a hell on earth, followed by a descent into a literal hell, separated from God for eternity.
For others, it was a glorious homecoming!
For some 18 others, it was the day when demons from hell would complete their work by inciting them to perpetrate one of the most heinous crimes in human history, and they would forever be cast into the bottomless pit at the point of impact.
For many others, it was a day when God’s great grace and mercy reached out one more time to spare them from the jaws of death.
For some of these, it was an answer to prayer of family and friends. (Clyde/Barbara)

For others, it was a wake-up call, and they are still grappling with “why did I escape?”

For people all over America, it was a call from God.

I believe that Jesus’ call to us from Luke 13 is that

III. We Must Take A deep look within, and allow the Holy Spirit to quicken our hearts

God is at work, let there be no doubt!

In Luke 13
Jesus says: “Unless you repent, you too will perish.”

From a grisly terrorist blood-bath waged by a criminal politician against a group of his own countrymen, to a terrible accidental tragedy which had recently claimed 18 live in a construction accident,

Jesus Christ the Son of God says: Evil and tragedy abound in this world. You too are going to face it sooner or later…what will your response be? Will you repent? Look deep into your own heart.

The one thing in all of this mayhem that we can be sure of, is that
Hebrews 9:27

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

I believe that the one truth that the Church can glean out of this upheaval and time of turmoil is that God is calling us to repentance!

It is a time for us to set our own house in order,

…and it is a time which should WAKE us from the hypnotic sleep of what we had come to see as unbridled prosperity

…so that we can REACH out to the lost and dying world that literally surrounds us like a sea!

As Christians: WE HAVE THE ANSWER!

As Jesus answered these men who sought to discredit Him, he immediately followed up with an intimately related topic…

IV. God’s Grace Is Long

Consider the parable of the fruitless fig tree which Jesus follows with:

the owner of the vineyard was running short on patience with this tree, which should be bearing fruit after three years, yet it is still barren. Why should we waste the space, and the nutrients in the soil any longer…
“CUT IT DOWN!” It is worthless, it’s chance to bear fruit has passed!

Yet, the vinedresser tells the owner “please give it one more year, I will work with it. I’ll dig a trench around it, and fertilize it with manure…I believe it will respond, if you can just give me one more year!”

Why does God not stop the carnage in our world?

Why are cancer wards full of children?


Why do innocents die every day, all around us?

Why do Godly people suffer and die, and often the godless humanistic atheists and agnostics sometimes live to ripe old ages, destroying people all of their lives with their humanistic arrogance?
The answer is found in the Old Testament:
Exodus 34:6-7 God proclaims to Moses His Revelation

God’s Judgements are inseparable from His Grace!
as long as His Grace is available to the world, sin will abound…but Grace will MUCH more abound!

Romans 5:17;20

My friends there is coming a day when all evil will be have a pay day!.


There is coming a day when all wrongs will be made right.

There is coming a day when all evil men will receive their just reward

But as long as He gives us the door of salvation,

the Day of Grace,

there will be unanswered questions,

and injustice will seem to thrive.

Our answer to the questions of life, must land squarely and rest in His Sovereignty, and in the knowledge that He alone knows the beginning from the end,

and He will judge the earth one day.

But for now, thank you God for Your grace. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

**Judgment always comes abounding with His Grace…and His Grace is calling out to you,


“Events like this not only horrify us—they unsettle us. We think of sin and the demonic as not-so-quaint relics from a superstitious age. And even more destructive, random events like this remind us how little we know about ourselves and what we are capable of, as well. But failing to call evil evil misleads us about the world we live in and our need for God’s grace, the only real answer and hope for any of us.”—Chuck Colson

Related Media
Related Sermons