“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, and they went to another village” (Luke 9:54-56).
Let’s be clear about one thing.
The Samaritans had a rotten attitude.
They hated the Jews so much that they didn’t welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem.
That ticked off James and John (the “sons of thunder”).
So they said, “Let’s ask God to burn down this village.”
Who looks worse?
The Samaritans with their prejudice or James and John with their spite?
It’s a pretty close call because both groups had stinky attitudes.
But these two brothers should have known better. After all, they had been with Jesus for a long time. They should have remembered the Golden Rule, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
You’re going to ask God to burn down a village to satisfy your anger? When you see the smoking ruins, will you feel better then? Will you smile and say, “They got what they deserved"? Will their suffering quench your desire for revenge?
On second thought, the disciples look worse because they knew better.
If you know to do good and seek vengeance anyway, you have greatly sinned against God.
Note that Jesus doesn’t absolve the Samaritans of their unkindness. It’s not as if he says, “That doesn’t matter.” He’s dealing here with his inner circle, the men he had personally chosen and trained. James and John had just witnessed the Transfiguration. It’s almost as if Jesus is saying, “Forget about the Samaritans. Your attitude is worse than theirs because you know me so much better.”
God can deal with our enemies better than we can.
Leave the job to him.
Move on to the next village. Someone there needs to hear about Jesus.
Lord, set us free from the need to get even with those who have hurt us. Give us grace to let go of our anger so we can keep on following you. Amen.
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