Read verses 1-5
Q: What does it mean that the Galileans’ blood was “mixed with their sacrifices”?
A: We do not know for sure about this specific event, but based on other actions taken by Pilate it is believed that the Galileans were killed as they came to offer their sacrifices at the Temple. There was an incident involving Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37) who tried to draw Jews away from paying tribute to Caesar against whom Pilate sent soldiers to set an example by killing them in this manner. Something similar to this is most likely to have taken place. There were many incidents like this.
Q: Of all the incidents which could have been brought up, why might one involving Galileans show that there was another agenda at work here?
A: Jesus and His followers were often referred to as “Galileans” and this may have been an attempt to link them to a political movement at odds with the authorities. If Jesus supports them His antagonists could report Him to the Romans; if He denounces them He may lose favor with the people.
Q: How does Jesus turn the table on the questioners? How does He change the nature of their question?
A: Jesus re-frames the real question so as not to state “Why did others die?” but rather “Why am I still alive?”
Application: Tragedies are a stark reminder that although we feel like we are going to live forever, the end could come unexpectedly at any time. How would your Christian walk change if you began living every day as if it may be your last?
Q: What is implied in Jesus’ answer as to how the people viewed the reason for these deaths?
A: They thought those who perished must have been especially egregious sinners.
Q:What did the Galileans and those killed at the tower of Siloam have in common that would make the people think that God must have been displeased?
A: Both groups were killed while engaging in Jewish rituals. The Galileans were killed in the course of bringing their sacrifices to the Temple, the others most likely in the act of purifying themselves at the Pool of Siloam near the base of that tower. They cannot understand how this could not be a direct judgment by God since they were killed in the course of activities devoted to God.
Q: How does Jesus confront His questioners to show that they are actually sinners as well?
A: Notice that He says “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners?” (v.2) and “Do you suppose that those eighteen…were worse culprits?” (v.4) Jesus is teaching that sin is not a sliding scale, but in all cases leads to death.
Q: How did the questioners miss the real lesson to be learned from these real-life events?
A: They were judging others instead of themselves. They did not see the issue as “Am I prepared if I were to be suddenly taken today?” but rather as “They would not have been taken if they weren’t such sinners”. This betrays that they were actually trusting in their own righteousness.
Q: How does Jesus answer the real question, “Why am I still alive?”
A: In order to take advantage of the opportunity while it is still available to repent and avoid the consequences of sin; so that when physical death comes, spiritual death will not ensue.
Application: The first and foremost step toward a spiritually fruitful life is repentance. In fact, without repentance, all subsequent works are actually dead regardless of how good the intentions.