Daily D – Luke 9:51-56
Luke 9:51-56 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. So they went on to another village. (NLT)
How much, or better how little, power and authority does it take to inflate a person’s ego to the point he or she is no longer of any use to those they are meant to serve?
James and John, along with Peter, were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (verses 28-36). They saw Jesus for who he really is. They saw Moses and Elijah. They heard the voice of God the Father. Not long beforehand, Jesus fed five thousand and more (verses 10-17). Then Peter made the confession, the only confession he could make in light of all the had seen and experienced with Jesus, that Jesus is the Messiah sent from God (verses 18-20).
Jesus healed a demonized boy when they came down the mountain (verses 37-43). Verses 43-45 are ultimately more significant than the healing:
Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power. While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
James and John saw everything falling into place for Jesus to reign as king and to extend his rule around the world. They would become his enforcers with power and authority. Pride does puff up a guy, doesn’t it?
James and John missed the meaning of what Jesus said about his coming death. They missed what Jesus said about who is the greatest (verses 46-48). They missed the point about others exercising Jesus’ delegated power and authority (verses 49, 50).
Pride was still working its inflationary errand. So, when “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem,” and a Samaritan village would not welcome him, James and John wanted to exercise power and authority to burn that village to the ground along with everyone in it. (See verses 51-56.)
Pride, arrogance, and prejudice kept James and John from hearing what Jesus said and taking it to heart. Jesus has spoken and acted as the Messiah he is, and James and John have missed it. They were so consumed with their first experience of power and authority that they forgot it was delegated from Jesus rather than inherent in who they were.
When they asked that hateful question in verse 54, “Jesus turned and rebuked them.”
What stops Jesus in his tracks? What makes him turn around and face us eye to eye? What makes him speak hard words of truth? This: When we get between him and those he came to save.
What did the True Master of the Universe do when the Samaritan village refused to welcome him?
“So they went on to another village,” (verse 56).
James didn’t live long enough to write a gospel or an epistle. John did. Here again are some of his best-known words:
For this is how God loved the world:
He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17 NLT
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit rested upon each person, James and John included. “They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them,” (verse 3 CSB).
In Acts 8:14-17, Peter and John were sent to check out a report that “the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message,” (verse 14). Peter and John prayed for these people, and they also received the Holy Spirit.
Fire fell upon Samaria. Not a fire of judgment like James and John wanted before, but a fire of God’s presence, power, and authority.
1. Listen to Jesus.
2. Listen to everything he says.
3. Understand what he says.
4. Do what he says.
5. Join him in using his power and authority to bring people to him.
6. Remember who he is and who you are not.
7. Correct the record when you are wrong. (See John 3:17.)
Jesus didn’t come to send people to hell. He came to save them from it. He is much more interested in rescuing than in destroying.
One other thing: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is walk away (verse 56). Recognize how in that moment, there is nothing to do, nothing to say to win the day. Sometimes you have to await a better day, a more opportune time.
I will listen to Jesus, understand what he says, obey him immediately, and correct the record when I am wrong.
Our Father, you are God and I am not. You love everyone and want them to know and experience you. Empower me to love everyone, too. Forgive me for being hard to hear, slow to learn, judgmental and prejudiced, ready to harm others who disagree with me. Thank you for not being like me. Make me more like you with the kind of love that seeks and saves the lost, even the lost I don’t like. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.
Psalm 52:8, 9 ”But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done. In the presence of your faithful people, I will put my hope in your name, for it is good.“