These are the words of Jesus that came to mind this morning when I heard about the plane crash that happened outside Buffalo last night, killing 5o people.
I first heard about the crash on the radio, and the reporter said something to the effect of, 'The families of the victims have been gathered together, and chaplains are available for grief counseling.'
That was sobering. I am not a chaplain, but I am a pastor. And I thought to myself, 'What would I say to the grieving family members in a crisis like this?' People look to chaplains or pastors, for comfort in the midst of grief. But the comfort we give must be grounded in truth. 'He's in a better place,' is not true for those apart from Christ. So as I thought about this story, I was sobered by the awesome responsibility of being Christ's ambassadors in a world of such pain and calamity.
I then thought of Jesus' words in Luke 13:
1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Unforeseen, tragic calamities are reminders from God that life is fragile, and all of our fate will one day be the same as those people killed in Buffalo, if we do not surrender to Christ and receive forgiveness of sins through Him.
Of course, one would not say this in these exact words to grieving people. But anyone interested in genuinely loving people who are grieving will not ignore the words of Christ. Life is short, and serious. Without Christ, there is no hope for any of us. Whether in an airplane, a falling tower, or a slow-moving disease, our time is coming. There is no time for false comfort or assurance.