July 21, 2008

The Question Everyone Asks

Luke 13:1-5

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners … because they suffered this way?”
Luke 13:2


The vertical habit we will be exploring for the next few days deals with the one-word question “Why?” This may be a short word, but its three letters pack a lot of power. Young children ask “Why?” with wild abandon as they explore the world around them. And no matter how old we get, we never stop asking this question. Perhaps it's because we all ask “Why?” that some people try to come up with easy answers when tragedies happen. After Hurricane Katrina devastated most of New Orleans, some people said that God sent the storm to punish a wicked city. A few years ago, when Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, suffered a stroke, a well-known evangelist said God was punishing him for giving parts of Israeli territory to Palestinians. This tendency to explain the problems of life is nothing new. Reading between the lines of our Scripture for today, we get the impression that people were suggesting to Jesus that the Galileans whom Pilate had killed were just getting what they deserved. As the gospels later inform us, Jesus also asked “Why?” when he was lifted up to die on a cross. For his sake, we receive mercy instead of the punishment we all deserve. God does not promise to give us all the answers we want. But he does give us One who is in some way the answer to our every question.

Lord, we have so many questions that seem to have no satisfying answers. Help us to trust your good will and to point others to you in their search for answers. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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