> And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village (Luke 9:51-56).
The Lord’s time had come (v. 51). The end of His earthly ministry had drawn to a close and He was now ready to be offered, as a Sheep to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). He would GIVE His life – no one would ‘take it’ from Him (John 10:18). The people of Samaria didn’t like the Jews very much due to some problems between them in the past. Nevertheless, the Lord sent ‘messengers’ to prepare a place for Him in the Samaritan village (v. 52). However, they saw that He was just passing through on the way to Jerusalem (v. 53) and that bothered them even more, so they refused His request. How did the disciples react to this situation (v. 54) (how would we)?
• In anger?
• Call down fire from heaven to devour them?
• In frustration?
• With holy anger?
• In the anger of the flesh?
The disciples reacted according to how they were treated. And so often we do too. Perhaps we try to justify our anger by thinking that it is properly placed against the anti-God behaviors of others.
But, what does it mean to REACT? It means to retaliate – to meet fire with fire. The disciples reacted to the behavior of the Samaritans by wanting to harm them: bad for bad, tit-for-tat. And is it not also true of us today when we feel someone has done us wrong? But what did Jesus have to say about this attitude? He rebuked them (v. 55): They were not in a right spirit.
1. What was the Lord’s response to the wrong of the Samaritans?
In verse 56, Jesus responded to the bad behavior of the Samaritans in meekness. Meekness means that the Lord had power to destroy them for their poor behavior but did not. He gave us an example for us to follow:
> Matthew 11:29, … I am meek and lowly in heart …
> Titus 3:2, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
> 2 Timothy 2:25, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves …
2. Jesus responded to the poor behavior of the Samaritans in mercy. Mercy means that the Lord had authority and the right to condemn the Samaritans for their poor behavior but He did not:
> Psalm 116:5, Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
The disciples were with the Lord for three years but forgot His teaching:
> 6 Luke 6:36, Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
3. Instead of destroying the Samaritans, Jesus responded in love.
> Luke 6:27, But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.
To RESPOND means to reply. It means fire meets water. Far too often when in these situations, we forget how the Lord responded to US and all of our shortcomings, bad behaviors, and wickedness. In Genesis 3:6, Adam and Eve sinned. They disobeyed God’s command. They should have been punished. But God made them coats of skins and promised them a Redeemer. According to Romans 3:23, you and I sin. We daily disobey God’s commands. We should be punished. But God sent us a Savior. The Lord responded to us rather than reacted:
> John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
> Romans 5:8, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
> Luke 9:56, For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
If the Lord had reacted, we would all be in dire straits. And if you if you haven’t already, understand from the heart that you are a sinner. Confess your sinful self and turn from your sinful ways. Acknowledge that you need a Savior or you will perish. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Trust Him and walk in newness of life.
4. How about us -- how do we behave when we feel wronged?
When God doesn’t behave as we think He should do we react and shake our fist at Him, or do we respond to Him in love? When others behave poorly toward us, do we fight fire with fire? Do we seek to call down fire upon them? Do we show meekness, mercy, and love? Remember the Lord’s words,
> Philippians 2:5, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus...
5. How can we learn to respond instead of react?
We need the mind of Christ. How can we have the mind of Christ?
> Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...
Get into the Word of Christ -- not just a little, but richly.
> 1 Peter 2:21, … Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps...
Only then will we be able to know and follow His holy example.
We see from this passage in Matthew that the disciples were no different than us. When someone does wrong, often our first inclination is to retaliate, to react. However, Jesus brought us a new and living way. When a person is in Christ, they have been given the power to respond rather than react. Only by getting into the word of God can we develop the same mind or attitudes as Christ. Christ suffered beyond measure at our hands, yet what did He say at the end, “Father forgive them…” May the Lord grant us grace to respond rather than react, so that our heavenly Father might be glorified by Christ in us.