When the days drew near for him 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
What is going on with the Samaritans? Here is Jesus looking for lodging in one of their towns and they want to have nothing to do with Him. Luke gives us a hint when he records that “his face was set toward Jerusalem.” Both Jews and Samaritans claimed to be the keeper of the religion of Abraham. This split came during the Babylonian exile of the Jews. While the Babylonians too all the Jewish nobility and a great number of the Jewish people with them after they conquered Jerusalem they also left behind Jews to tend the land. The split between these two had been going on since the time when Eli was high priest. The disagreement was where to worship God. The Jews said it had to be in Jerusalem at the temple while the Samaritans believed the only proper place to worship God was on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans also thought that the returning Jews brought back a corrupted version of Judaism when they returned from Babylon.
When they found that the Messiah was going to Jerusalem rather than Mount Gerizim they turned their back on Him. James and John did not take this slight well and they wanted to reign down fire on the town destroying it. Of course part of their reaction was probably the result of the intense dislike Jews and Samaritans had for each other. Jesus however rebuked them and they went on to another village.
My take away from today’s verses is to refrain from being judgmental of others. Judgment is God’s purview not ours. That does not mean we should not be discerning. We need to recognize bad behavior and correct it when we can and avoid people who continue in their ungodly behavior. What James and John did is what I mean by being judgmental; wanting to call the wrath of God on someone whose sins we feel is too great to allow them to live. We do not know how many Samaritans who lived in that town and who turned Jesus away eventually accepted Jesus as Lord and Messiah. I believe there just might have been one or two or maybe more and that is why Jesus rebuked James and John. They wanted to destroy people before they had a chance to come to Jesus.
Remember Jesus had yet to be resurrected. Even the disciple did not understand what Jesus had to do or why Jesus had really come to earth. If those closest to Jesus did not understand then how could these Samaritans be expected to. So the next time you feel ready to judge someone remember that their road to God just might be a bit longer and take a few more detours than yours did. We may reject their behavior but we should not reject them. God just may not be finished with them yet.
Have a blessed day,