Today’s post is written by my friend, *Jackie*. She’s traveled a long distance to be here, so please give her a warm welcome. 🙂
I’ll be posting over at *Coffee Talk* today.
Luke 9:51 – 56 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, and they went to another village.
How extraordinary! To hear that James and John wanted to be two terminators! ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and burn them up?’ What a terribly, totally un-Christian thing to say. And to think it was said by two saints!
Of course they weren’t saints then. They were two young hotheads. Overheated nationalists maybe. Fighting men with fighting words. Burn them up.
It was more extraordinary still if you had known James in Jerusalem when I met him. Feeding people, looking after people, but still direct. Never mind talking about it, do it. Sympathy and words don’t feed hungry people – give them food. That was James. So I suppose some of the old fire was still there, but by then it was for preserving people, not destroying them.
And of course John. John the gentle, the kind, the thoughtful. Hard to imagine him saying it, I know. But he did. James told me, and James wouldn’t have said anything about his brother that wasn’t true. They were very close.
You remember what happened. Jesus was going up to Jerusalem that last time, and He was going the short cut through Samaria, and needed some place to stay on the way. Now of course, the disciples said to him ‘Are you mad? There’s no way the Samaritans are going to take Jews into their houses and give them food or a bed for the night. Sure, they hate us as much as we hate them’.
But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘I don’t hate them. And it’ll never be made up if we keep avoiding one another. We have to take a chance, and give a chance, of making up. And you never know, they might see that we haven’t got two heads, and that we need food and drink, like anyone else. All we can do is try’.
Well, as James told me, some of the disciples followed behind, muttering, ‘Trying you’ll be. You don’t know that crowd. God himself couldn’t talk to them’.
And as it turned out, they were right. The Samaritans showed them the door and gave them the road. And the disciples, who had been tense and wary when they came into the village, now stood opposite them, the two groups eyeing each other like two packs of unfriendly dogs, circling and waiting to attack. The disciples had expected to be insulted, and they were. The Samaritans told them where to go, and they were shouting after them, and it was then that James and John called to Jesus who was in front of them, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them up?’
And Jesus turned round and looked at them. And all he said was, ‘Oh, John. Oh, James’.
And James told me that at that moment he felt terrible. It wasn’t that Jesus was angry with them. It was that he was sorry for them – that they would want to destroy any human being. It was the opposite of all he had ever taught them. And he said, ‘Come on, we’ll try somewhere else. We might have better luck in the next place’. He wasn’t mad with the Samaritans, and he wasn’t mad with the disciples. But James said he’d felt a huge sadness and weariness in Him with all the distrust and the ill-temper and the hate, between people who were neighbours, of the same race, living in the same country, speaking the same language, adoring the same God, and still hating and being hated. ‘I could blush to think of it now’, said James, ‘he saying ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ and we walking behind him saying, ‘kill them, burn them up’. Don’t you think that’s dreadful?’
And I said, ‘Oh James, you were young and rash.’
‘Thanks, Luke,’ he said, ‘but it’s not a good enough excuse. Write it down in your book. I’m ashamed of it, but maybe it’ll stop someone else hating, and let them see what tolerance and forgiveness is’.
So, I wrote it down, and it’s there for you to read, but how many people it’ll stop I don’t know. Isn’t hate a terrible thing? Burn them up. God keep it from happening to any Jew, or Samaritan, or any of us.
Dear Father, Forgive me for the times I’ve responded to others with anger and hate, instead of with peace and love.
As always, this is a beautiful post, Jackie. Such an important reminder to us all.
Sometimes, we just REACT instead of taking our time, gathering our wits about us, and ACTing the way God wants us to.