I mentioned in the last blog that there will be people that hate us because of the truth that we represent.
I also said it’s important how consider how we say it, and the spirit with which we talk to people.
We see the importance of this in this passage.
After Jesus’ brothers went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus stayed behind for a while. For how long, we don’t know, but finally he went up. From this time forward, most of his ministry appears to be done in Jerusalem and Judea, and it would be about six months before he would be crucified.
Before he reached Jerusalem, however, he passed one last time through Samaria. He had previously gone through Samaria, and had had great success early on in his ministry (John 4). But this time, the reception was much different. When he sent messengers ahead of him to prepare for his coming, the people rejected him because he was headed for Jerusalem. There was still much antipathy between the Jews and Samaritans, and this was perhaps the main reason for their rejection of him.
The disciples were outraged. Here Jesus deigned to reach out to these Samaritans who, in the disciples’ minds, deserved nothing from him. And yet, they rejected him. They put up with the Samaritans from the other village (John 4) because they had accepted Jesus. But when this village rejected him, James and John said to Jesus,
Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them? (54)
They were perhaps thinking of Elijah in the Old Testament, and how he had called down fire on those who had showed utter contempt for the prophet of God (II Kings 1).
But Jesus rebuked them. The New King James Version and (KJV) adds the words,
You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. (NKJV vs. 55-56)
Whether Jesus actually said those words are up for debate, but they do capture his spirit.
There would be a time of judgment coming for the Samaritans who rejected him. But the time was not now. He had come to die for their sins, not to destroy them for theirs.
And that’s the spirit we need to have now. Yes, there will be a time of judgment coming for those who reject Jesus and the truth he gives.
But that time is not now. So until that time, we need to be praying and working for people’s salvation. We need to keep reaching out in love with the truth that Jesus has given us. And by God’s grace, some will be saved.
By no means should we delight in or desire people’s destruction, no matter how vile their sin. Jesus certainly didn’t. He died so that they wouldn’t have to.
What spirit do you have as you deal with the people around you, even those who reject Jesus?