The subject of the end times, of the second coming of Christ, is intriguing. The sinful nature sometimes seizes on those parts of the Bible which deal with the last things in the same way conspiracy buffs get worked up over UFOs, aliens and who shot JFK.
Christian book stores have made a mint on books entitled Left Behind, a series of novels filled with false teachings about the rapture, the millennium, and half-baked political views of Biblical prophecies.
This sort of thing is appealing to people because it allows them to get passionate about dramatic opinions without ever having it touch their own relationship with God. It allows a person to assume the role of an armchair analyst of current headlines about corrupt politicians, terrorist threats and the moral decline of society.
But none of this spouting confronts the conscience of the “analyst,” never summons him or her to repent, to repair their broken home, or forsake their sinful ways.
The people of Jesus’ day also seized upon some “breaking news,” a recent headline (Luke 13:1-5). Everyone was talking about it – the way we talk about demonstrators gunned down in Cairo, or children slain with nerve gas in Syria. It was a terrible thing. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, probably wanted to make an example of some Galileans who were worshipping at the temple. Pilate has these men slaughtered as they worshipped and then, as in some creepy Stephen King novel, mingled their human blood with the blood of their animal sacrifices. Historians tell us that Pilate did stuff like this.
It’s obvious why these folks report this “breaking news” to Jesus. They want Him to comment on it, perhaps reinforce their hatred of Rome, get everyone stirred up. But Jesus does not denounce Pilate. He does not decry the corruption of the Roman forces of occupation. This would be stating the obvious. Nor does Jesus offer any opinion about the political views of the Galileans who died in the incident.
Instead, Jesus makes it clear that repentance gets personal: “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” In other words, the headlines point us to God’s deadlines. The signs of the end remind me that I am a sinner, that I need Christ, that Christ died for me. That’s personal! And that’s the point!