Lent 3 (2012)–No Welcome Mat

Listen to Jesus, God reminds us we journey along.  Our first pilgrim song reminds us to Expect Opposition.  From the moment Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem, the opposition was an uninvited guest in the spiritual sidecar.

And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village (Luke 9:52-56)

The Samaritans didn’t like the Jews very much.  They especially didn’t like them when they were heading to Jerusalem for the feasts.  Samaritans believed the presence of God was at Mount Gerizim, not in Jerusalem and the Jewish insistence otherwise by these pilgrims showing up made the Samaritans angry.

Jesus is walking with His disciples and the messengers return with the bad news: the Samaritans have yanked in the welcome mat, shut the windows, and bolted the doors.  “No Trespassing” notices adorn every tree and “Keep off the Grass” signs have shown up on everyone’s front lawns.  No hero’s welcome or room at the inn in Samaria for the Rabbi on the move.

James and John, the sons of thunder, were quite perturbed.  This is Rabbi Jesus, we’re talking about coming through.  Indignant, James and John wanted to show those Samaritans a thing or two, just like Elijah did in 2 Kings 1:1-17.  Call down fire! Let’em burn.  (Samaritan jerks.)  Of course, it didn’t take much to stoke the flames of hatred against and by the Samaritans.  Any gentle puff of wind will do, blowing any which way.

But Expect Opposition, the first Song of Ascents reminded us.  Turn the other cheek.  Trust in God.  You’re a disciple of Jesus and the presence of God in heaven is your home.  In this world, you’re aliens and strangers.  So Jesus rebukes James and John.  Isn’t this a bit unfair?  They were only looking out for Jesus’ best interests and they had biblical precedent with the king of Samaria and Elijah. Why not fire from heaven to consume those Samaritans as a timely reminder?

Jesus knew and taught His disciples this: Expect Opposition.  It comes with the territory.  So long as it was mere rejection, just brush it off.  Expect it.  Jesus instructs His disciples to persevere and not to take rejection personally.  After all, it’s really Jesus and His Father in heaven that are being rejected.

For the disciple walking with Jesus “Up to Jerusalem,” there will be other villages in which to stay.  We’re just passing through.  Rejection and discipleship go hand in hand.

Questions for meditation:

  • Can you think of a time when you took others’ rejection of your beliefs personally?
  • Do you ever feel like an alien and a stranger in this world?
  • What types of things make persevering difficult?


Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on February 24, 2012

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