Luke 9:51-56 - When the days drew near for Him (Jesus) to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem. And He sent messengers ahead of Him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for Him. But the people did not receive Him, because His face was set toward Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do You want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
There is an all-too-timely story about Jesus and the disciples. Jesus is traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem, and He decides to travel through Samaria, which lay directly in between. Now this was an unusual decision for a Jew in those days, because most Jews looked down on the Samaritans as half-breeds and outsiders. It was basically a form of racism. In fact, most Jewish travelers would take the long way around Samaria just to avoid contact with those people.
But Jesus didn't do that sort of thing. He was no racist. So He planned to travel through Samaria, and He sent people ahead of Him to prepare a place for Him to stay. Well, it didn't take the people of the village long to figure out that Jesus was a Jew, on His way to Jerusalem, their arch-rival city. Racism begets racism. They rejected Jesus and refused to have Him in their city.
Naturally, this made James and John angry. No doubt they thought they were absolutely justified when they offered to call down fire from heaven to destroy that village. After all, it had rejected the Messiah! They deserved God's judgment! James and John had to protect Jesus! (And incidentally, James and John would also be showing off their own great faith and righteous anger, doing such a spectacular miracle.)
But Jesus rebuked them sharply. Their hatred and anger were the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted. He did not come to destroy the people of that village, but to save them.
So what did happen to the people of that village? As far as we can tell, nothing at all. Jesus rebuked His disciples, and then they went on to a different village and stayed there—a different Samaritan village, it seems pretty clear. As for the original village, well, Jesus went on to Jerusalem to suffer and die for them as well as for the rest of the world. They might not have loved Him, but it didn't matter. He loved them—just as He loves us.
And what of us, when we are righteously angry with people (or think that we are righteous)? Jesus shows us the way. We are not to harm them in any way. We are not to threaten them, or to force them, or to abuse them. They, too, are people for whom Jesus died and rose from the dead. They are valuable to Him, just as we are.
This is not to say we should become doormats, but it is to say that when we come into conflict with others, we should walk extremely carefully in whatever we do, with love and gentleness. Our enemies are not targets for our wrath. They are people Christ died for—people He loves. Let us treat them that way.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You know how hard it is for me to show love to certain people. Please help me, and make my heart like Yours. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. What considerations do you take when traveling in unfamiliar territory?
2. Sending "fire to come down from heaven and consume them" is some pretty stout language. Do you think the disciples really believed God might do this?
3. What is your first reaction when you feel spurned or slighted?
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