Summary: James and John were angry from being rejected by Samaritan Villagers. Christ's response applies to us when we don't follow the Word.

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June 30, 2013

Those Rude Samaritans

A mom is making pancakes for her boys, and they start arguing over who is the hungriest and who should get the first pancake.

Seeing the opportunity for a morality lesson, she says, “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘let my brother have the first pancake.’”

The youngest looks at the other and says, “Okay, you be Jesus.”

A lawyer died and went to heaven. He was greeted by St. Peter, who was pleased to see him arrive. “Wow, this is exciting! We don’t have too many 157-year-olds here in heaven,” Peter said.

“What? I’m not 157!” exclaimed the lawyer, “I was only 63 when I died!”

Peter said while looking at his book, “According to the number of hours you billed, you’re 157.”

The human spirit is programmed to do what it wants, and is dramatically influenced by emotion, pleasure and desires, such as the boys wanting the first pancake and the attorney who wanted more money than he actually worked for. Such attitudes are seen in our selected Scripture, Luke 9. The part that is surprising is that such stinking attitudes came from James and John, disciples who should have been shining examples since they were under the direct instruction of Messiah. As long as there are those among us who do not follow the Christ but their own desires, bad situations will happen. Can we overcome our selfishness? Can we get past our right-fighting? Must we put our perceived important things ahead of a relationship with Messiah and each other for the proper time?

In this passage of Luke, Jesus has drawn out His proverbial map for their trip to Jerusalem, a City He loved and even wept over, and where so much happened to him. In the days leading up His crucifixion, locations such as the Mount of Olives and the garden where Jesus prayed in agony as He was arrested by Caiaphas’ men, meant so much to Messiah. The ancient olive trees provide an amazing setting for meditation. Then, just outside the City walls is where His execution took place. Modern archeology has discovered the street where soldiers gambled for the clothes on those to be put to death outside the City. This site is near the Antonia Fortress. Now, tourists can visit so many sites made famous by the presence of the Anointed One. If Jerusalem, the intended “place of peace” was to ever be famous, it is so because Messiah made it that way.

If we are to rely on scriptural accounts to detail the history of the Christ going to Jerusalem, then there are only seven unique times we know of. However, He observed Passover, which would have put Him there 22-times, between age 12 and His death.

How different Jerusalem would be today had City and Temple leaders of the time recognize Yeshua’s influence on Capernaum. The big-city leaders likely thought the small towns had nothing to offer. And it’s because Capernaum was so receptive to Messiah that He spent his resting time there. The lake provided convenient travel by boat to places important to His ministry.

The planning meeting for this trip to Jerusalem would have sounded something like this: “I want us to go back to Jerusalem this time,” Jesus said as they stood around a fire watching their dinner roast and smoke rise. Peter turned the fish slowly for even cooking. “We have so much work there,” He continued, “and I think we are becoming better known. While there, we will visit the Temple. You, James and John, go on ahead of us to let some of the faithful know we are coming. They will have provisions for you and us.”

The next morning, as it appears, the two assigned to prepare the way, left and rowed to a shore as close as possible to Jerusalem. From there they walked. The trip was so long they stopped in a Samaritan village, thinking the location would be a good resting place for Yeshua and the others and for them now, but the Master had not told them to stop. Now, there was a problem; the people of the village wanted nothing to do with James and John and rudely sent them on down the road. Tired and hungry, they left, muttering under their breath that Sodom had nothing on this village, and they were going to do something about it.

Today, we hear about the Good Samaritan but don’t stop to realize how amazing that story is, given the division before and long after the time of Christ in the region. It’s easy to ask, what was James and John thinking? They already knew finding any kind of support in a Samaritan village was going to be difficult. Samaritans were and still are an ethnoreligious group, descendants from ancient Semitic people of the region. They follow an Abrahamic religion, which is close to Judaism but based on the Samaritan Torah. They too believe their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites and oppose what they believe has happened to Judaism. These people know their lineage and have no problem with right fighting as we would see among Christian denominations today. There was a bloody Samaritan Revolt in 529 against Byzantine Christian rulers, which was followed by a mass conversion to Islam. Get the idea? Samaritans were not all that happy with what Yeshua was teaching, so there was no reason to help His disciples, in any way.

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