by Matt Johnson
Many of you have been reading about and seeing videos and pictures of the devastation in Haiti and the heartbreaking stories that have emerged. The loss of life is almost incomprehensible.
Despite this terrible tragedy, I can’t help but think of the words Jesus spoke when he said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” But do you remember the context of these famous words? Here’s Luke’s account:
“There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans , because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
You see the real tragedy is that most of those who have died in the earthquake and of subsequent injuries, were unrepentant sinners. And there can and should be much sorrow and lamentation for the lives lost, but what about your life?
Jesus didn’t want those in his day to focus on the emotional aspect of the tragedies of those Galilaeans, but the spiritual tragedy that will fall on all those who do not repent.
Jesus knew of his own death but understood that there was no need to be troubled. He spoke of his impending departure and even his destination and knowing the disciples would be sorrowful.
He told them:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).
Death will not be troublesome for the believer for whom a place is prepared because that is an eternal perspective that will overcome all of life’s tragedies.
And so the living can know whether their death, by whatever means, will be a tragedy because it’s dependent on whether they have repented and become obedient to God.
The good news, if you’re reading this and have not repented, is that you still have time, but know the truth of Jesus’ words this very moment, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
At the same time,
“… blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13).
Isn’t it a great comfort and wonderful promise to know that we, as God’s faithful children, are blessed in both life and in death?
Matt ministers with the Hiram, Ga., church and was chosen as one of Atlanta’s top 40 (under 40 years of age) businessmen last year.