“When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’” Luke 9:54-56
Have you ever thought that you were being devoted to the cause of Christ, but found yourself in tension or conflict with people around you? I think this is a fairly common experience. It seems to me that this is kind of what was happening in the verses in Luke 9, referenced at the beginning of this blog. In these verses, James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples were reacting to the rejection of Jesus from a Samaritan village. Their response, to call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritan village, could seem to be an ardent defense and strong support for Jesus. On the other hand, their response was really contrary to Jesus’ values and purpose for coming to earth.
Rather than agreeing with their judgment and acrimony, Jesus flipped the script when He spoke about His purpose for coming to earth. He was very clear with His words in Luke 9:56. “for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
It’s interesting to me that Jesus didn’t jump on the bandwagon to condemn, shame nor even destroy the Samaritans who didn’t celebrate nor accept Him. Furthermore, Jesus challenged James and John about their perspective when He rebuked them and explicitly confronted their mindset or posture in Luke 9:55, “But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of;’ . . . ” In essence, Jesus flipped the script. He declined to agree with condemnation and destruction. He choose, instead, to remain loyal to His purpose for coming to the earth – the save men’s lives.
This exchange between Jesus and James and John makes me pause to think about my own outlook and values toward people with whom I don’t agree or who have different perspectives than I do. Am I condemning? Am I judgmental? Do I want to destroy or hurt people with whom I don’t’ agree? This is what James and John wanted to do and Jesus rebuked them. Even more importantly, Jesus flipped the script and told them with bright clarity, that He came to earth to save and redeem people rather than condemn those who disagree with Him, or even reject Him.
When I think about Jesus’ words to James and John, it makes me pause and reflect about my own perspective toward people with whom I don’t agree. Would you also be willing to pause and consider if you might need to recalibrate your perspective, flip the script, so that you could have a greater alignment and agreement with Jesus’ values and purposes? Let’s be committed to agreeing with Jesus’ values such that we keep our interactions with people aligned with Jesus’ love.