Jesus responded in Luke 13:2-5 - "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Jesus' response leads me to believe that those who shared this news with Him had adopted a self-righteous attitude--namely, they felt that they were still alive because they were more righteous than those Galileans. They, like the friends of Job, erred in their belief that suffering is always a direct consequence of one's personal sins (cf. Job 4:7; John 9:2; Acts 28:4). They believed the reason why these Galileans suffered an extraordinary misfortune was because they had committed sins to an extraordinary degree. Undeniably, such is often the case in this life, but not always (e.g., Matt. 27:26ff).
Jesus affirmed in Luke 13:2,3 that the tragedy those Galileans suffered was unrelated to their degree of sinfulness compared to others. He then powerfully stated - "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." This declaration brought their attention to their own sins. Jesus' words were emphatic and solemn. Repentance is caused by godly sorrow for one's sins (II Cor. 7:10). Repentance is the changing of one's mind; it is the decision to turn from the paths of sin and walk in the way of righteousness. Genuine repentance is manifested in a change of actions (cf. Matt. 3:8).
In Luke 13:4, our Lord brought up a current event that all of them would have been familiar with. There were eighteen people on whom a tower in Siloam fell and killed. Those who lived in or near Jerusalem were more highly regarded than those who lived in Galilee (cf. John 1:46; 7:52). This was because there were relatively few "pure-blooded" Hebrews who lived in that region after the Babylonian captivity. This example conveys the same meaning as the previous one though it is even stronger since Jesus refers to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Jesus answered His own question in the negative. Those who were crushed to death under the weight of the tower were not worse sinners than those who dwelt in Jerusalem. Jesus then reemphasized the need for all to repent (cf. Rom. 3:23). If one doesn't repent, he will certainly perish spiritually. Of course, even if one does repent, he may still die in a physical tragedy.
We will consider the parable of the barren fig tree tomorrow and note its connection to these verses.