As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 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. Luke 9:51-55
As you train under Jesus as His disciple, it is important that you take to heart the way in which He interacted with His first disciples. The episode described above is an instructive example of the way in which a disciple might act out of zeal for Jesus but still violate His heart and purpose.
Jesus didn’t come into mortal flesh in order to condemn the world; He came to save it (John 3:17). He didn’t use His power and authority to destroy or to harm; rather, He healed and delivered those who were captive to the power of the enemy. His disciples should have known this about their Master, yet notice how James and John (whom He named “sons of thunder” – Mark 3:17) expressed a willingness to bring destruction on a village full of Samaritans who were not willing to show Jesus hospitality! Their zeal for their Master’s honor eclipsed their submission to His greater purpose and desire. We don’t know what Jesus said in response to their suggestion, but we know He did not appreciate or agree with their idea: “But Jesus turned and rebuked them.”
We should not be too hard on our ancient brothers. If we think honestly about our own tendencies, we might find that we can become angry at Jesus’ enemies, too. We might recognize in ourselves the fierce loyalty to Jesus that moves us to resentment when people disrespect or dismiss Him. Perhaps we might even entertain an eagerness for their eventual comeuppance.
As He did then, Jesus will rebuke such things in us. He will not turn us aside and reject us. No, He will carry on with our training knowing that He can reshape us to become like Him in how we view His enemies. As long as we are humble and willing to yield to His voice, He will always be willing to carry on with us, even if that means rebuking us along the way.
Today is a good day for a heart-check, Disciple. What are your feelings toward those who oppose Jesus and His ways? When you hear people arrogantly mouthing off about things they don’t understand concerning your Master and your Father, what fills your thoughts and heart? If you discern any anger or bitterness, admit that freely and come to your Master willing to learn. He desires to fill you with the very same love for His enemies that He has. He is able to give you eyes of compassion and yearning for their best. The day will come when He will deal harshly with His enemies, but today He is inviting them to lay down their weapons, hoist the white flag, bow the knee, and find pardon and acceptance in Him. May we always be His willing partners as He does so!
Loving Jesus and His enemies with you,