Luke 9:51-56 :
It came to pass, when the days were near that he should be taken up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face. They went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him. They didn’t receive him, because he was traveling with his face set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky, and destroy them, just as Elijah did?”
But he turned and rebuked them, “You don’t know of what kind of spirit you are. For the Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
Here we read that Jesus is making His way to the place where He will die. He has just informed the disciples but they couldn’t understand and were too afraid to ask about it, but we know that Jesus had made up His mind, and here we read that He “intently set his face” on the task. Since most of us already know what happened in Jerusalem we get a better understanding of Jesus love for us and His desire to obey His father.
I believe that Satan was trying to use willing souls along the way to stop Jesus from His plans. The Samaritans were half Jew and half Gentile and they had bad feelings for the Jews in Jerusalem. For some reason, on this occasion, they decided to not allow Jesus to stay there when they heard He was traveling to Jerusalem. This is a good time to find a Bible and look at the maps. They are usually in the back. Look for “Palestine in the time of Jesus.” Notice that Israel had regions that were like what we might call counties in the USA. On the north there was Galilee which was Jesus’ home “county” and then to the south of that was Samaria. South of Samaria was Judea in which the city of Jerusalem was. Since Jesus was probably traveling from Galilee, He would have to travel through Samaria.
The fact that the Samaritans refused to allow Jesus to stay there made it inconvenient for Jesus. James and John were upset about a valid issue. Jesus was being what we might call today “racially discriminated against.” Another interesting thing is that, even though Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan,” we read that there were plenty of bad Samaritans too.
Remember that Jesus had sent out the disciples earlier with the power to do miracles and even to pass judgment on cities by “shaking the dust” from their feet, but without really understanding the purpose of Jesus, the disciples made a hasty judgment against the Samaritans. This is an important issue for all of us to understand about ourselves. We all need to be careful to not be zealous for things we don’t really understand yet. Here’s what the Bible says about that:
Proverbs 19:2 :
It isn’t good to have zeal without knowledge;
nor being hasty with one’s feet and missing the way.
So, Jesus scolds them for not knowing the true spirit of what they were doing. Jesus says in John that He didn’t come to bring Judgment this time but to make things right between God and mankind. Notice that Jesus didn’t say that the Samaritans were doing good. He was saying that the disciples would have made things worse. That is true of us when we attempt to lean on our own understanding. We can make a big mess of things and end up working for Satan instead of Jesus. As Christians, it is important for us to walk by the Spirit of God by depending on His power and direction. Then we will get to know the Spirit that we are of.