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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#1080. Dealing with death by ‘natural disasters’ and accidents (18/6/24)

This week in our Luke series, we are focussing on Luke 13:1-9. Today, from Luke 13:4-5, we see how we are to handle the death of others by natural disasters and accidents. 

‘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? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”’ (Luke 13:4-5)

To listen to this devotional, follow the link below: 

Following on from yesterday, Luke gives another example of people who have died in extreme ways that Jesus uses to teach a point. Yesterday, we saw Jesus using death through human power (Pilate),  and today, He uses an example of a ‘natural disaster’ to teach us. 

’Natural’ disasters and accidents can be baffling. When something happens to someone we know or love, it throws up all sorts of questions as in the death of Dr. Michael Mosley that I referred to yesterday. How are we to respond to natural disasters and accidents?

Firstly, we must understand that they do happen. I know it’s obvious to say it, but bad things happen to people who are seeking to serve God and who seem to have so much still to do in life. Death is often mysterious. ‘Good Christians’ die of cancer, in car crashes and all sorts of accidents, and this hits us as unfair and untimely. 

Secondly, when death comes, it’s important to look beyond death. Here, Jesus doesn’t explain the theological truths behind these deaths; He points to what happens at death: perishing or salvation. When death hits we should look beyond death to the hope we have in Christ. If, however, we’re not sure whether someone was a Christian, even then we are to entrust them to God and endeavour to leave it, and keep leaving it with Him. 

Thirdly, as yesterday, death by natural disaster and accidents are to cause us to reflect on the time of our passing; we are to ask, “My death may come at a surprising time so am I ready? If it were to be today, am I ready?” As we read in Ecclesiastes:

‘It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.’ (Ecclesiastes 7:2) 


Death - life beyond this life - is our destiny! Have we taken this to heart? Death is an often ignored truth that must be faced. Death is a reality that helps us to live in wisdom. Death keeps the importance of our mission in view. Death keeps us humble as we realise our weakness and need of God. Death keeps us resting in and celebrating the gospel which frees us from the fear of death. As we face our, often unexpected, time of death, can you and I say:

‘But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…’ (Psalm 31:14-15) 


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News. 

2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you? 

3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.

4. Study and pray together

Our message on Sunday was entitled, How to become a fruitful tree. In this section, we see how we are to become fruitful trees and help others to become fruitful trees through ‘digging and fertilising’. 

Please read Luke 13:1-9, and discuss: 

  • What would you say is the main message and application of  Luke 13:1-9? 

  • Did God speak to you about anything specifically from Sunday’s message?

  • What is the shared lesson and application of the three parabolic stories of Pilate’s killings, the falling tower and the unfruitful tree? 

  • In what specific ways are you prone to self-righteousness and pride? 

  • Who is The Parable of the unfruitful tree aimed at? and why can’t it be, principally, about Christians (See 1 John 3:9-10, Luke 6:43-45)?

  • How is a Christian to apply this parable of the unfruitful tree?

  • SIV - How can ‘digging round the tree and fertilising it’ be applied to how we seek to bring people to Jesus?

  • SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  • SIV - Spend some time together talking and praying about who and how you are seeking to bring your community to Jesus. 

  • Let’s pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV; and pray for anything else that's come out of our time in God’s Word.

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