Pilate was the governor of Judea at the time of Jesus’s ministry, and he had a reputation for cruelty as he attempted to keep the fractious Jews under Roman rule. This report that he mixed some Galileans’ blood with that of their sacrifices indicates that they were killed while worshipping at the temple. Jesus tells the people that this doesn’t mean that these Galileans were particularly bad sinners, because popular opinion would say that God would protect the righteous, especially while giving an offering to Him. Jesus doesn’t give an opinion on whether these men were guilty of sedition against the Roman government or merely resisting an unjust arrest, but He does assert that they were sinners who deserved death just like everyone else. Therefore, He calls for His listeners to repent of their own sins or they will end up perishing just like the Galileans.
He gives another example, where a tower at Siloam fell and killed eighteen people. Those eighteen people were sinners too, but any one of us could die just as swiftly. If we do not repent of our sins, then we shall die as well.
The parable of the fig tree that Jesus tells loses all of its meaning when it’s taken out of this context. For a whole chapter, Luke has been quoting Jesus’s teaching on the necessity of being right with God before it is too late. When we are in our sins, we are like the fig tree that doesn’t produce any fruit. We are useless to God and there will come a day when we are removed from our place. The Lord will be patient with us for a long time, years at a time. But eventually His patience runs out.
Help us to hate our sin, to flee from it, and rest safely under the shelter of Your mercy.