Luke 9:51-56 (ESV)
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.
Jesus is going to Jerusalem to die. The colloquialism, “set his face” is intended to convey His determination to accomplish this mission (as if any words could do His determination justice).
But His advance team can’t find anyone in this Samaritan village willing to give them lodging, which really sets them off. They want to wipe the place out – like Sodom or Hiroshima.
Yikes! Would you give that kind of power to someone who would use it to obliterate a village just because they put up a no-vacancy sign – even if they denied you lodging because of racism?
So, Jesus rebuked them. They’re not thinking like Christians. Like any normal person, they want to be respected. They can’t handle this rejection by the Samaritans.
But the kingdom of God isn’t about human priorities like being respected; it’s about heavenly priorities. The disciples had better get used to rejection; this is nothing compared to what they will soon be suffering.
They desperately need to replace their worldly perspective.
Professor Christ’s rebuke may have been a long lecture. His students are not ready, and time is running short.
He’s now literally walking on the road to the cross.
If the original disciples can be that immature, imagine how bad we must be. What can we do to encourage our maturation?
A church’s fellowship groups are the hubs of spiritual growth. Sure, we learn a lot in worship and Sunday School, but the back and forth in a fellowship group can challenge us more.
We need other Christians to hold us accountable. There are few things more valuable than a friend who’s willing to rebuke you.
Pray that your church’s fellowship groups will have deep, substantive fellowship. Ask God to give them true koinonia.
And pray that anyone who is not already in a group will find one that suits them.
The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here: