Jesus Shows Us How NOT to Retaliate

October 25, 2017 at 10:46 AM 2 comments

In Luke 9:51-56, we see a very clear example of how Jesus responded when He was rejected and this time, essentially by an entire village of people. The rejection was based on race or religious bigotry toward Jesus as a Jewish man.

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him.53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 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?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. (ESV)

It’s an interesting situation Jesus faced. The problems between Jews and Samaritans dated back a number of centuries before Jesus was physically born. It was during the time of the divided Israel, when there were two kingdoms, the north and the south, or Israel and Judah. Because of this divide, the city of Samaria became the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel (though Shechem had been the first capital). Jerusalem remained the capital of Judah, the southern kingdom.

Unfortunately for Israel, God had sanctioned only one city as His city and that city was and remains Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem became part of the southern kingdom of Judah and Samaritan city of Samaria was ultimately chosen as the capital of Israel, worship for the Samaritans was done there and not Jerusalem.

The problems between the Jews and Samaritans date back to the Assyrian invasion of Israel in 722 BC. This invasion resulted in the conquering of the northern part of Israel and the captivity of many Israelites. Assyria then sent in its own people to colonize Israel. These people were very pagan in their religious belief system and Gentile. Later on, these pagan Gentiles began to marry Jews and the result was a sort of half-breed Jew/Gentile with a mixture of pagan and Jewish beliefs. In essence, many of the religious structures found within pagan society at that time were incorporated into Jewish rites and worship. In the end, the Samaritans essentially rejected all of the Jewish Scriptures except for the Pentateuch.

Eventually, in around 600 BC, the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by Babylon and many Jews from there taken to Babylon. After 70 years, they were released and many went back to Judah to re-establish themselves and their lives. However, when they did, they were met with terrible resistance from the Samaritans, who opposed the fact that they had returned and were also bent on keeping them from rebuilding Judah again.

For their part, the full-blooded, monotheistic Jews detested the mixed marriages and worship of their northern cousins. So walls of bitterness were erected on both sides and did nothing but harden for the next 550 years.

By the time Jesus grew into a young man and began His ministry, the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans was firmly in place. Jesus and His disciples were heading to Jerusalem where He was going to be “taken up” (v. 51). The village of Samaria  was about 30 miles north of Jerusalem and Jesus wanted to stop there on His way to Jerusalem, likely for one night.

Verse 53 tells us how the people of Samaria responded to His desire to stay there on His way to Jerusalem.

But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

As far as the Samaritans were concerned, worshipers did not need to go to Jerusalem. In fact, the Samaritans rejected Jerusalem as they had rejected most of the Jewish Scriptures. Samaritans worshiped God at Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. This had been the belief since Gentile colonists were first sent to that area and began intermarrying with Jews there as well. Because Jesus was intent to go onto Jerusalem, the people in the village of Samaria essentially rejected Him.

But there are several things to learn from this situation and they apply to us. Upon learning that the Samaritans rejected Jesus, not wanting Him to stay there since He was determined to go to Jerusalem, note the disciples’ reaction. Both James and John are said to have stated, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” This was a direct reference to the prophet Elijah and the fact that he called down fire from heaven to devour troops…twice (2 Kings 1:9-12).

On one hand, can we blame the disciples for their question? Here was Someone far greater than Elijah who was being rejected by people who were detested by the Jews. The small armies of Elijah’s day hadn’t even yet attacked Elijah, but only a command had been issued – “Oh man of God, come down” (vv. 9, 11). To this command, Elijah responded with, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty” (10, 12), and so it happened with fire destroying the two sets of fifty men.

It seemed reasonable to the disciples to expect God to respond to the people who had rejected Jesus in this same way. However, note Jesus’ response to them.

55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. (ESV)

Jesus actually rebuked His disciples for wanting to destroy the Samaritans. Jesus was living the example of His own preaching from the Sermon on the Mount. He also seemed to understand this rejection by the people of Samaria as the Father’s will for Him and used the situation as a sort of compass to determine what His next step was going to be. The text tells us He and His disciples simply went to another village.

Christians understand that God either opens or closes doors as one indication of His will for His children. However, what we don’t necessarily like or appreciate is when that closed-door includes some sort of negative rebuttal or reaction to us. We naturally tend to bristle at that. While it’s natural to react defensively to that form of negativism, Jesus is showing us that we should not go down that road. To do so, is often sinful because it caters to our self and the self-centered motives that stem from that.

I recall reading a biography about George Mueller of Bristol, England. He was used of the Lord to build numerous orphanages and his life was a life of prayer that always saw the Lord provide. On one occasion, he had embarked on a building project for one of his orphanages and he found land that he thought would be suitable, so he attempted to buy it.

When some of the neighbors heard that Mueller wanted to erect an orphanage, they protested. Instead of fighting in court or becoming indignant, Mueller took this as a sign that God did want that particular piece of land. Mueller stated he understood that some might feel the way they felt regarding having a large orphanage in their area, so he continued to look elsewhere. This is not to make a blanket statement that Christians should never fight for their established rights, but it should give us reason to pause and consider whether or not we are harboring resentment against those whom the Lord might have specifically used to dissuade us from going down a particular road in favor of another path.

Are there things in your life that you dwell on, that cause you to harbor feelings of frustration or anger at others for what “they’ve” done to you, Christian? We all have those experiences and we are all under the same directive by our Lord, to not harbor resentment, to not wish for their ill and certainly, to not wish for their destruction.

Forgiveness should be the hallmark of the life of each and every Christian. We have no justifiable reason to harbor hate, resentment, or anger against another. We know that intellectually, don’t we? We are familiar with the numerous passages of Scripture that direct us to forgive. Yet, living that out in our lives (working out our salvation with fear and trembling), is altogether something different at times.

Memories of a time when someone mistreated us remain with us, often for years. Yet we are to forgive and do our best to forget. Imagine Jesus, with Judas as part of His original twelve apostles, knowing what Judas would eventually do against Jesus. Yet, in spite of this, Jesus loved Judas and even made him treasurer of the twelve. Jesus knew the outcome of Judas’ treachery; that it would end in His own brutal crucifixion. Yet, there is no indication that Jesus did not love Judas. Yes, He rebuked him at times, but Jesus did this with all of His apostles, to teach them, to help them grow in their faith.

As difficult as it is – and please know that I am preaching to myself here as well as all who read this article – we must endeavor to do what Jesus did when faced with people or situations that end up rebuking or attacking us through no real fault of our own. If we have done something to deserve rebuke, censure, or attack, that is our fault. I’m referring to those times when we can think of nothing we’ve done, yet we’ve experienced the wrath or ill will of certain people and it is even worse when the folks who precipitate that rebuke or attack are other Christians. However, it happens, doesn’t it?

It is unfortunate to think that when I stand before Him to give an account of my life, I’m quite sure I will see what God saw in my life – that I harbored resentment or even thought about the harm I wished would come to certain people for the way they treated me. How terrible is that to stand before the Living God who forgave me of every sin I ever committed, clothed me with the righteousness of Jesus (justification), and granted me salvation (eternal life), yet I have the audacity to harbor any form of resentment against certain individuals for real or perceived slights against me?

In reality, God uses these situations for several purposes. First, He uses those negative situations to direct our steps. Second, He uses them to cause our growth. If we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, we will end up glorifying Him. If we harbor resentment or kick against the goads, so to speak, we dishonor Him.

The most difficult part of living the Christians life is actually living it. It is so because our sin nature (self) constantly wants us to cater to it. God wants us to ignore it and cater to Him. We cannot do both. We can only do one or the other.

Fortunately for us, the Holy Spirit lives within and seeks to empower every authentic Christian to overcome self and the sin nature that is so desperately attached to it. That is the only way I am aware of to live for Christ, by depending upon the power of God within us to act on our behalf as we submit to Him.

We can try to use our “will power,” such as it is, but that is simply trying to put something on from the outside. God works by recreating us from within and bubbles up to our outside.

Know that all Christians suffer from this dichotomy. Know that you are not in it alone. Know that God in you seeks to recreate the character of Jesus and that does not happen without a bit of pain and frustration. Know also that it is easier when we give up trying on our own and simply learn to depend on Jesus and His power to overcome.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Demonic, devil worship, eternity, Judaism, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , , .

Zechariah’s Near and Far Visions, Pt 3 Being Sincere But Sincerely Wrong

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rose Cameron  |  October 28, 2017 at 5:45 AM

    Modres I read your replies to those who believed the lying spirits like Kryon, Seth and the like! I agree with you on that issue! I disagree with you about the Rapture! You also mentioned that your wife was once a ‘catholic’ and now is a ‘Protestant’. Tell me, which one of the 35,000 denominations does she belong to? Or should I say fractions! Please don’t bag the Catholic Church because it was the Catholic Church and its magisterium that gave you the Bible. You should thank it! You sound so egotistical about your knowledge as if you had all the truth! Why don’t you read the Church Fathers, you might learn something. Why don’t you also watch ‘journey home’ on youtube which are testimonies of Baptists, Pentecostals, Anglicans, Athiests,Buddhists, and all other faiths who found their way home to the Catholic Church. I know that the Catholic Church is not perfect but it is God who is the builder and it has stood the test of time. We also pray for you separated brethren to come back home. God wants unity and until you know the meaning of the word and stop being so devisive you might also be cut off!

    Reply
    • 2. modres  |  October 28, 2017 at 10:50 AM

      Hi Rose,

      A couple of things as you appear confused. First, this is my blog not a forum where arguments are entered into. Since you appear to be Catholic I understand why you would not accept my views on aspects of Eschatology and that’s fine. After all Roman Catholicism adopted Augustine’s allegorical Views of Eschatology wholesale.

      Secondly, RCC did not give us the Bible. In fact they kept it from the common person and made it a punishable crime to the death to translate so people could read it for themselves. Luther, Wycliffe, Tyndale and many others risked life and limb to give average people like you and me access to God’s Word.

      Regarding the many denominations, most differ in aspects or worship and the taking of the Lord’s Supper. Those that veer from biblical authority often end up being sects or even cults.

      My wife and I are Christian first and foremost. We happen to attend a conservative Baptist Church because of their style of worship (hymns with simply piano and organ accompaniment), and our pastor’s expositional preaching and teaching.

      I have many friends and relatives who are Catholic. I don’t condemn it at all but I DO have serious concerns about their teaching regarding salvation. The Bible clearly teaches salvation is God’s work alone (Eph 2:8-10, etc), yet the official teaching of RCC is that man has to, in part, earn that salvation and also teaches it can be lost. This is not something Scripture teaches.

      It was this and other things that brought about the Reformation, yet in spite of Lither’s 95 Theses, RCC continues to teach salvation is something we earn, can be lost, indulgences are still accepted, and numerous other things that are based on tradition, the Apochrypha, and the various teachings of the many popes through the ages.

      I’m sorry you’re offended by my words. My wife rejected Catholicism due to the Bible. Zechariah 3 teaches that salvation is God’s work alone (example of Joshua there) and Galatians 5:19-21 which highlights the things that keep us from God. Since she realized that she did some of those things the RCC sacraments had no ability to save her.

      Rose, you are responsible before God for what you believe and your “works” that emanate from those beliefs, just as I am. Make every effort to know that what you believe is correct.

      Regarding my alleged divisiveness, are you not familiar with Scripture and all the times Jesus created division by what He taught?

      Truth always divides and separates. Always.

      Reply

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