(In Fitzroy this Lenten Season we are studying as a Church community the chapters of Luke 9-19 that have been called the travel narratives. I am trying to blog thoughts as I read…)
READ Luke 9: 51-56
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.
The Travel Narratives start here. This is a section of stories unique to Luke and it begins here at the end of Chapter 9 with Luke telling us that Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. And as Desi Alexander pointed out to us in Fitzroy Jesus ascension is the end goal of Luke’s intentions - “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven.”
For me though in our Northern Irish context I was drawn to this desire of James and John to bring the judgement down. We are always so quick to condemn and throw damnation at others. In Northern Ireland evangelicalism I would describe it as epidemic. When someone thinks anything different than our “infallible” opinions we call them names and dismiss them in the most unChristian of ways. Deluded into thinking we are standing for truth, we smash the good news of Jesus grace. We take God's name in vain and ruin his reputation.
My friend Doug Gay, preaching in Fitzroy, suggested that this traditional route from Galilee to Jerusalem that Jesus was travelling, and being met with opposition by those of another faith and political allegiance, might have resonance in Northern Ireland. When your songs of creed are met with opposition what do you do? Sing louder! Bring down judgement? Jesus just moves on.
Before we condemn James and John, let us search our own hearts for where we want to damn? Then let us see that James and John actually ask Jesus first. What a great idea? How many of our reactionary responses would be softened with grace if we asked first, “Lord do you want us to…?”
PONDER: How do we respond to those who differ with us and don’t hold as dear what we believe? Let us begin to ask Jesus how we shook respond and find his grace in our reactions.