Luke 9: 52-56 “And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.”
John, the disciple closest to Jesus was the one who wrote the most famous saying of Jesus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). John, the one who would be exiled and have a mysterious Revelation was the man who knew the love of God. He wrote, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) What a nice man he was! Well, not in the early days perhaps.
When people reject you, when they say NO to you showing you disrespect and a definite lack of hospitality, what would you like to do if you had the opportunity? Revenge? Or James and John’s way, which was Revenge plus? Before we laugh at James and John too much, their suggestion was not ridiculous, they had a Biblical basis for this. How often have we seen people use the Bible to justify the ridiculous? “The Bible says …”
The Samaritans worshipped the same God as the Jews but they had their own rituals, their own priesthood and sacrificial system and did not recognise Jerusalem as the central holy site. The Jews hated the Samaritans and would avoid going through that region if they could. It was far too pagan and made them unclean for even travelling through it.
The fact that Jesus wanted to travel through this region and sent messengers ahead into a village to prepare accommodation for the entourage indicated the love of Christ for all people.
To call down fire was actually the Biblical story which took place in that very region with a confrontation between Elijah and King Ahaziah. Elijah called fire down and consumed fifty soldiers and then another fifty soldiers that had come to capture him. It is a classic Biblical story and the disciples knew it.
But just because there is Biblical precedent doesn’t mean Jesus agrees. In fact he totally disagreed and though they had hoped for a rebuke towards the Samaritans who rejected Christ, he actually rebuked the disciples. Maybe some parts of the Church need rebuking and not who the Church wants to rebuke today?
So what does Jesus suggest?
Jesus goes to another village where they are welcomed. Let’s move on, we don’t have time to wallow in rejection, I have a purpose to my life and we are headed to Jerusalem.
Are you wallowing in rejection today?
Are you trying to find a Bible verse to back your intention to retaliate?
Walk on. Let it go. This is not what you are created for. Your life is more than that.