There is an interesting story in Luke’s gospel that sounds like it could have happened two days ago somewhere in the US.
In the account in Luke 9, we read that Jesus had “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” This is the point in the gospel account where everything begins to point to the cross. Jesus is on mission and will not be deterred.
Luke says Jesus sent an advance team of disciples ahead of him into a Samaritan village to let the people know that Jesus, the Messiah, was headed their way. But the Samaritans refused to received Jesus, Luke says, “because His face was set toward Jerusalem.”
You may or may not know that for centuries, one of the issues that had divided the Jews and the Samaritans was the question of where God’s people should gather for worship. Remember the Samaritan woman who raised the issue with Jesus in John 4? She said “our fathers worshipped on this mountain (Mt. Gerizim) but you say that Jerusalem is the place where people should gather for worship.” (John 4:20). That question – Mt. Gerizim or Mt. Zion? – was a line in the sand question for partisans on both sides of the issue.
So back to Luke 9. As the advance team for Jesus comes into the Samaritan village telling the people that the Messiah is coming to town on His way to Jerusalem, the “Make Mt. Gerizim Great Again” crowd digs in. They want nothing to do with any so-called Messiah who doesn’t think like they do about where to worship. Jesus is not welcome in their town. He is persona non grata.
But Jesus’ disciples aren’t much better than the pro-Gerizim Samaritans. When they hear that Jesus will not be welcomed in the village, their sense of righteous indignation goes into overdrive. James and John go to Jesus with a proposal. “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
Jesus has already told His disciples “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). So the stubborn, stiff necked pro-Gerizim crowd that refuses to welcome Jesus should not be surprised when judgement comes to them. They loved their Gerizim bias more than they loved the Son of God.
But the disciples want to see the judgment of God come now. They are ready for a little action. They want to see a victory for the team they’re on, team Jesus. Elijah saw God destroy the prophets of Baal with fire in his day. How about a display like that right her, right now Jesus?
You know what Jesus tells them, right? He rebukes them. Although this next sentence is not in the oldest manuscripts, later manuscripts offer the specifics of Jesus’ rebuke: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them”
Here’s what I find interesting about this story as I think about it in our current cultural moment. Part of what is fueling the division in our world today is the impulse that has been stoked in so many of our hearts to want to bring hurt, harm, judgment or destruction on our enemies. We look at those who reject Jesus, who promote ungodly ideas or lifestyles, and we find ourselves thinking “I’d sure like to see a little fire and brimstone judgment about now.”
But the Bible says that from the arrival of Jesus until today, God is demonstrating his kindness, His forbearance and His patience, not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, John tells us, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17).
There is a day of judgment and wrath coming for those who persist in their rejection of God and His Son. But that day is not today. And while it is right for us to grieve and mourn and become righteously indignant when we see people mocking God and openly rebelling against and rejecting His commandments, our indignation should be tempered by a love for the enemies of God and a desire to see all people come to repentance and to a saving knowledge of His Son.
So the next time you’re on line or watching cable news and you read about the latest craziness in our world, and you find yourself wishing that God would judge the wicked and put an end to the ungodliness we see in our world, remember that today is not that day. That there is still time for the ungodly to repent. That today is the day of salvation. Instead of praying for fire from heaven to consume the ungodly, remember that Jesus rebuked His disciples for thinking like that. Make it your prayer that the ungodly would see their own stubborn, sinful hearts and would repent and believe the gospel, while there is still time.
Are you ready for some amazing burgers (if I do say so myself)? Some Kona Shaved Ice? Inflatables? Then plan to join us next Wednesday night for our final parking lot picnic of the summer!
|Yes, you heard me right. In addition to Pastor Bob’s Burgers, there will be Kona Shaved Ice for everyone!|
|We’ll have tables available inside and outside, so you can cool off for a few minutes if you’d like. Take advantage of a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors, bring lots of kids and let’s have a fun evening together.|
Men – it’s time to huddle up for another Men’s Breakfast event on August 13. Great food, great fellowship, a great chance to spend time getting to know guys and hearing about how God is at work in our lives and in our church. Plan to join us for breakfast on Saturday, August 13.
MEMBERSHIP CLASS – Sat, Aug 20
|If you’ve been visiting Redeemer and are ready to learn more about what it means to be a member of our church, circle August 20 on your calendar. That’s the day for our next New Members class.|
If you’ve been visiting for while, heads up. You can expect to get a call from Pastor Matt with more information about the New Members classes and what you need to do to prepare for the time together. We’d love to have you make Redeemer your church home.
POTLUCK SUNDAY – aUGUST 21
|Sunday morning, August 21, plan to bring a plate of food with you to church and to stay around when our service is over. We’ll be having an end of summer all church potluck that morning.|
AWANA Club – Kids Age 3-11
|And believe it or not, we are just a few weeks away now from the kickoff of our Awana Club ministry for kids ages 3-11 (fifth grade)!|
|There are three action points for you regarding Awana:|
(1) You may have received an email already with Awana details. If not, click here to read all about it.
(2) Register your kids now. Help us better plan by knowing how many children will be participating.
(3) Share the Awana information website with parents you know whose children might want to be part of Awana. We’d love to welcome lots of children to our church to take part in Awana.
Any questions? Contact Laura or Kendall White.
One prayer request before we’re done (I have the okay to pass this along). Earlier today, Walter Hill had emergency surgery for a perforated diverticulitis. All went well and Walter is resting comfortably at Conway Regional Medical Center for a few days as he heals from surgery. Pray for a speedy recovery and no complications for Walter, and peace and grace for Suzanne.
There’s an ancient song that God’s people have sung for centuries that was written after King David spent night after night staring at the stars. Even without a telescope or an advanced understanding of astronomy, David knew that the vastness of the heavens has a lot to tell us about who God is and who we are.
We’ll look at the lyrics to the song David wrote about our majestic Creator God as we gather for worship this week.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!