Scripture: Luke 9:51-56
51 When the days drew near for him to be received 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 ready for him;
53 but the people would 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 bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?"
55 But he turned and rebuked them.
56 And they went on to another village.
Are you shocked to see two of Jesus' disciples almost praying for the destruction of a Samaritan village in verse 54? The Jew (descendant of ancient Hebrew) and Samaritans (ancient Samaria) had been divided for years. Jewish travellers who passed through Samaritan territory were from time to time attacked, assaulted and beaten.
If you are familiar with news you can see that terrorism in Judea and Samaria is becoming more sophisticated, last month saw a continuation of violence in Judea and Samaria. Palestinian terrorists bombarded civilians with 52 firebombs and 246 rocks. Did you know rocks can kill? Fortunately, nobody was killed but still six people were injured. There would have be many more victims if it were not for Israeli soldiers who put themselves on the line to protect innocent civilians.
In this passage during the time of Jesus on the earth he did the impossible for a Jew. He not only decided to travel through Samaritan territory at his own risk, but he also asked for hospitality in one of their villages! Jesus' offer of friendship was refused. Is there any wonder that the disciples were annoyed and felt justified in wanting to see retribution done to this village? Wouldn't you respond the same way? Jesus, however, rebukes his disciples for their lack of tolerance.
Tolerance is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.Tolerance is a much needed virtue today and we all need to be able to tolerate each other. But aren't we often tolerant for the wrong thing or for the wrong motive? We Suppose to seeks the highest good of both one's neighbour and one's enemy.
When Abraham Lincoln was criticized for his courtesy and tolerance towards his enemies during the American Civil War, he responded: "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?" How do you behave toward those who cross you and cause you trouble? Do you seek their good rather than their hurt?
Forcefully pronouncing how the world should act based on the interpretation of the Bible is not in accordance with the words of Jesus. But when Jesus was confronted with these outdated laws Mark chapter 7 he rebuked the Pharisees for focusing on insignificant things (like how to wash a pot, et al) and forgetting the important things. He said it wasn't what a person ate that made them unclean, but how they acted.
Lord Jesus, you are gracious, merciful, and kind. Set me free from my prejudice and intolerance towards those I find disagreeable, and widen my heart to love and to do good even to those who wish me harm or evil. Amen