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. (Luke 9:51-56)
I have some sympathy with James and John. They saw Jesus insulted, and they wanted to avenge Him. No doubt they felt very holy and righteous about it!
But Jesus rebuked them. They didn't see what Jesus saw clearly—that He had set His face to go to Jerusalem to die, to be nailed to a cross for the very people who were insulting and rejecting Him. For all their wrong-headedness, the people in that village were precious to Him—so precious that He would lay down His life to save them. He had no intentions of burning them up!
This is the story I try to remember whenever one of my own enemies does something horrible—whenever I feel the desire to pull out my handy-dandy flamethrower and rid the world of them. I hear Jesus' voice in my ear, saying, "I died for them, too, you know." At which point I whine, "Aw, Lord ..." and put my vengeance away.
You are precious to Jesus, for all of your wrong-headedness. And so are your enemies—even the worst of them. Give it a try—pray for them. Even if you have to grit your teeth.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to deal with person's name here in mercy, remembering that You love that person enough to give Your life for him/her. Amen.
* Did you have enemies when you were a child? How did you deal with them?
* How do you deal with enemies now that you are older?
* Take a moment to pray, asking God to give something good to one of your enemies.
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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