SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
Passage: Luke 9:54-56
54 And 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, just as Elijah did?”
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
Memory Verse: Luke 6:28 (ISV)
“ BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU and PRAY FOR THOSE WHO INSULT YOU.”
Jesus Rebukes Vindictiveness (Part 1)
In the previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today we learnt about the refusal of the Samaritans to allow Jesus entry through their land to Jerusalem. They knew Jesus was going to worship at the Temple of Jerusalem and were not happy about it. They would have welcomed Jesus if he had decided to worship in Samaria. Due to this misunderstanding they missed the divine visit. In this edition we want to take a closer look at what happened after the Samaritans had refused to allow Jesus to pass through their land and learn some very important lessons from it. This is the first of a two-part series.
Immediately the messengers of Jesus came to report that the Samaritans did not welcome them, the disciples became annoyed especially James and John. They could not accept why the Samaritans could refuse their master a passage through their land. They were aware of the authority given them by Jesus which was used to drive out many evil spirits when they were first sent. They still believed they had the power to declare anything and it would come to pass.
This is something very important for believers to be reminded of. We should always be conscious of the power and authority given to us by Christ and make use of it as and when the need arises. We should know that we have been given power to trample down upon serpents and scorpions and nothing can harm us. If we become aware of whom we are in Christ, we shall have no cause to fear the devil or allow ourselves to be intimidated by any demon or even Satan himself. Because many Christians are unaware of who they are in Christ and what they have, they are made to believe that the devil can do so many things against them unless they allow someone ‘special’ to pray for them. I want to remind someone today that you are a mighty warrior in Christ and the devil has no control over any aspect of your life as long as you continue to remain in Christ!
Unfortunately James and John did not fully understand how to use the power they had. They did not understand that they should not be vindictive. They did not understand that followers of Christ should be tolerant of the views of others. They had also forgotten what the Lord had taught them about loving one’s enemies and praying for those who mistreat or insult them. They were, like many Christians of today, vindictive, intolerant and revengeful.
Many Christians of today have become so revengeful in their prayers that they easily curse their supposed enemies without any consideration for what Christ teaches about love. In many prayer centers that I know of, about eighty per cent (80%) of the prayers are concentrated on prayers against enemies instead of expressing our gratitude to God and magnifying him. We seem to easily attribute every little problem to the works of enemies and focus attention on how to destroy them with the power we have received from Christ. It is no wonder most of our prayers are not answered because they are full of wrong motives and are therefore not in line with God’s word (James 4:3). It is very important for Christians to be less revengeful and more forgiving in spirit. This is what the Master taught us and practiced.
The disciples wanted permission from Jesus to call fire upon the Samaritans with reference to what Elijah did in the Old Testament. They had misunderstood Elijah’s action because the scenarios were not the same. They thought that because Elijah the great prophet called fire to destroy the enemies of God they could also do the same.
This is one problem many believers have. Many Christians of today take God’s word out of context and quote certain scriptures to justify their selfish interests. When you attempt to discourage them from praying revengeful prayers, they will quote from the Old Testament to defend their positions, yet forget what the Master teaches us concerning love for our enemies. The funny thing is that some of the people who quote Old Testament scriptures to defend their ‘wicked’ prayers will shy away from the Old Testament on certain issues.
Beloved in Christ, I wish to humbly appeal to all of you to learn from the Master and become more tolerant and less revengeful in our dealings with our ‘supposed’ enemies. We should also avoid spending much of our prayer times on the works of the devil and evil spirits and concentrate more on what God has done, and can do for us through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
If we shall acknowledge the LORD more in our prayers, he will fight our battles for us. Do not forget that vengeance belongs to the LORD. May the Lord help us to learn to love our enemies more than what we are doing now!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Jesus Rebukes Vindictiveness (Part 2)
In the first part of this series, we focused our attention on what James and John intended to do after they had received report that the Samaritans had refused them passage through their village to Jerusalem. In this second and last part of the message, the focus will be more on what Jesus said and did after the Samaritans had refused them passage through their town.
It is obvious from the passage that the disciples of Jesus had even though been with the Lord for some time, they had still not been able to learn and practice his ways. They had still not learnt how he treated those who hated and insulted him. They had still not learnt his patience and gentleness. They had still not learnt Christ’s self-control even when he was provoked.
It shows that the disciples were like many Christians of today. It is an undeniable fact that there are many people have come to know Christ many years ago but are still holding on to their old ways of life. Many Christians still lack self-control in several aspects of their lives. Many Christians are impatient, vindictive and unforgiving but still claim to be Christians. It is very true that Satan will always do everything he can to get us back into the world. However if we shall learn and practice the way of the Master under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we shall be able to let go of the old self and live the Christ-like life. The disciples acted in a way which did not reflect what they had received from Christ.
In the disciples’ anger and desire to obtain permission from Jesus to call fire upon the Samaritans Jesus taught them some important lessons. It is important to let believers realize that not all the manuscripts contain Jesus’ original words, even though all the manuscripts reported that Jesus rebuked the disciples for their vindictiveness.
Jesus’ rebuke as we find in verse 59 shows clearly that he does not expect his followers to be vindictive in their thoughts and actions. He expects gentleness, patience, love and forgiveness. He also expects those of us who call ourselves his followers to pray for those who treat us badly.
In a nutshell, Jesus expected his disciples to ask God to forgive the Samaritans for their ignorance and not to have thought of calling fire to consume them. This is a very important lesson for all believers to learn. According to versions such as the KJV, MKJV, Webster, WNT, ABP, Darby, DRB, EMTV and the JUB, Jesus rebuked the disciples saying they do not know what spirit they are of. By this statement, Jesus meant to remind the disciples that those who have the Spirit of Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit in them MUST NOT exhibit such a vindictive attitude towards others. Jesus’ statement summarizes what we have said earlier, that true followers of Christ should be loving and forgiving at all times.
In verse 56, the versions stated in the preceding paragraph adds that Jesus did not only remind the disciples of who they were but told them what he came into the world to do. According to the MKJV, Jesus stated:
“FOR THE SON OF MAN HAS NOT COME TO DESTROY MEN’S LIVES, BUT TO SAVE” Luke 9:56a, MKJV.
Jesus thus reminded the disciples of his purpose for coming into the world. Jesus came not to destroy men but to save men.
It is the duty of all believers to let the world know why Christ came into this world. We are to tell the world that Jesus is the one who cares so much about the souls of lost men. He does not discriminate against anyone who allows him space in his or her life. He is always looking for hungry and dying souls to feed and save. He does not want to see anyone destroyed or die in their sins. His desire is to save. That is why he is calling on everyone to come to him. He is loving, forgiving, caring, and has the power and authority to save mankind from every sin which entangles us. He came because he had compassion on our sinful world and decided to die in order to save us. He is therefore calling on those of us who have been saved to have compassion on sinners and tell them about Jesus’ love and desire to save them.
If we do that, we shall help rescue the perishing and lift up the falling. It is suicidal for those of us who have been shown love and mercy by God, while we were yet sinners, to think of destroying those who hate us by praying for them to die or wishing that something bad happens to them. This would be vindictive and therefore unchristian.
May the Lord Jesus Christ help us to develop love for all men, especially those who sin against us! By so doing, we shall be leading many lost souls to Christ.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.