1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
From 70 AD to 325 AD, the Church was underground as it was going through persecution. Believers did not openly declare that they are followers of Jesus Christ. They secretly made the sign of the fish, ΙΧΘΥΣ (ichthys), or also ΙΧΘΥϹ with a lunate sigma, which is an acronym or acrostic for Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr; contemporary Koine (common Greek), which translates into English as ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, [Our] Savior’. Iota (i) is the first letter of Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), Greek for “Jesus”. In this background and context, we do not know how big the Church gatherings were. Due to the COVID19 pandemic today, religious gatherings were stopped, which resulted in many churches conducting online services on social media.
The updated global figures of Coronavirus as on October 20th, 2020 are recorded to be 40,632,399 (40.7 Million), the figure of persons who lost the fight against COVID19 is 1,122,745 (1.12 Million) and those who recovered are 30,314,077. The updated (20-10-2020) figures of COVID19 cases in Pakistan are 323K infected, the figure of those who recovered is 307K and figure of those who lost their lives is 6,659.
It is interesting to note that in 1912, the Influenza epidemic struck, and 50 million people died. The situation was very bad. In the morning, the patient had symptoms of influenza and by nightfall, the patient was dead.
It is also worth noting that the global figures for normal deaths is 55.3 million yearly and based on this figure 151,600 people die worldwide daily out of which 100,000 die of old age. If further calculations are done, then 6,313 die per hour, 105 per minute and 2 persons die every second.
Now these figures are not to scare you, but to make a point that we all experience crises, sickness, and loss of loved ones in families. In my family, I am the eldest with a younger brother and sister. In 1968, while we were going to school, my brother had a bad accident. He fell under the wheels of a double decker bus. His femur bone had a compound fracture and his heel was very badly damaged. He struggled between life and death for two weeks.
During his three months of hospitalization, the doctors struggled whether to amputate his leg or save it. He had to undergo 15 blood transfusions, 5 major surgeries which included a lot of repair work of the muscle tissue and skin grafting. Our mother who was a nurse looked after him and the body of Christ prayed.
At this time of crisis in our family, we stood strong in God, the solid Rock and our Hope was in Him based in the completed work of salvation by Jesus Christ. Today he limps as his femur bone is shortened by an inch and his heel is still tender like that of a baby. But God was gracious and today God has blessed him with a son and a daughter and four grandchildren. Glory to His Name. Amen.
A. (i) JESUS THE ROCK – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
Jesus is the ROCK, which means a firm and solid rock and not sand. It is interesting to note that the foundations of skyscrapers are laid on bedrock which is compacted under pressure. This solid layer of earth is the first building block in constructing a sturdy foundation for skyscrapers. Footings are then blasted or drilled into the bedrock and fit with steel or reinforced concrete columns to anchor the building.
Jesus died, rose again, ascended to heaven and is coming again. He is our solid Rock, our solid foundation, the source of Hope, Joy and comfort in times of crisis. This is our driving force and keeps the believer going as in Jesus Christ our future is secure.
(ii) SOLID – Because the Bible says that we are like grass, but God is solid and everlasting, therefore we hope in Him. 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NIV) 24 For,“ All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
SOLID – Because God’s Word in Scripture cannot be broken. John 10:35 (NIV) 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the Word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—
SOLID – Because what God says is true. Psalm 19:9 (NIV) 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
B. THE ROCK IS RIGHTEOUS
This means Jesus is holy, separated, unique and an unmatchable class. He set a perfect example of fulfilling the will of God by doing what was right.
C. THE ROCK IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL
This means GOD is in control of all situations. The story of Ruth (Ruth 1:20-21 NIV) is an example.
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:20 Naomi means pleasant and Mara means bitter. The story of Job is another example. This means that even if we are in a crisis, God is sovereign.
D. SWEETNESS OF HIS REIGN
In His economy and kingdom, we are valued as children of God, and He will never leave us and forsake us.
Why must we bank on God the Solid Rock, because: –
A. The world we live in, there is Moral Horror as sin entered the world (Genesis 3) and we were separated from God. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.
B. Divine Judgement is purifying, Acts 12:21 21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
Herod allowed himself to be God and was eaten by worms.
C. Awakening for the 2nd coming of Jesus, let us stay awake, let us be ready and prepared.
Luke 13:1-5 (NIV)
13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
This is only the fruit of human wickedness.
4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?
This was an accident; one can be in the wrong place at a wrong time.
Jesus Christ answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? “ I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
This means that whatever the situation, crisis or problem repentance is needed, a relationship with Jesus is needed, walking with God is needed as this experience puts us on the solid rock and we are secure.
Death is inevitable after birth and we cannot escape death. Life is a blessing for which we should thank God. Threats have always been there and will be there as various kinds of calamities as floods, earthquakes, famine, epidemics, pandemics, fire and wars. The challenge is to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
I wonder how many people in the world die daily without having a chance to repent and know Jesus. So, we as believers have a mandate and mission to share the Word of God which is living hope. So, let us continue our role in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Anthony Aijaz Lamuel is serving as the General Secretary of the Pakistan Bible Society as well as the Provincial Secretary, Province of Pakistan and Secretary, Lahore Diocese.
Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash