When Jesus was confronted with the evil and suffering of this world He took a radically different approach than other religions of the world. The prevailing notion since the time of Job (Job 22:5) was that “calamity visited upon people for their personal wickedness” (Howell, 231), in a system that for all intensive purposes probably inspired the Hindu notion of karma. Even Jesus' disciples and the Jewish Pharisees believed the blind man Jesus healed was born blind because either his parents sinned or “he was steeped in sin from birth” (John 9:1-2, 34). Jesus' forcefully dispelled this notion by claiming that the tragic events of the Galileans slaughtered by Pilate and those crushed by the fallen tower of Siloam were no guiltier than anyone else!
In fact He “affirm[s] that all of his hearers are equally in danger of divine judgment...” as Jesus stressed “the need for universal repentance” (Marshall, 552). For destruction awaits everyone, whether by political reprisal, architectural error, car crash, malignant disease, or old age. Only those who repent and accept forgiveness of their sins throug Christ's substitution on the cross will be saved.
After dispelling this karmic notion of evil, Jesus cast it in a very different light. He didn't begin a discourse that started “suffering is...” as the Buddhist sutras do almost as a divine cop-out of the problem of evil saying “evil exists, accept it.” Jesus encouraged people to produce fruit despite evil in the world! Those who accept evil or claim it doesn't exist (whether by their action or inaction) instead of radically pursing its eradication condemn themselves, since Jesus claims that any such tree which does not bear fruit should be cut down to make room for one that will despite evil. However, just as the vinedresser earned additional time for the fig tree to fertilize it in the parable, so too have we been bought time and provided with God's word and God's testimony to fertilize us. Thus two possibilities lie open: 1) that we may bear fruit in keeping with repentance, or 2) time will run out when “the day of grace will come to an end” and face the coming judgment (Marshall, 556).
Jesus message is clear, everyone who does not recognize that the very evil they decry exists within them and thus does not repent is worthy of destruction. To make matters worse, due to the evil that exists in the world, no one knows how long they have to repent before time runs out!
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.