Scripture: Luke 9:51-56 (alternate reading: Matthew 18:1-5,10)
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.
Meditation: Are you surprised to see two of Jesus' disciples praying for the destruction of a Samaritan village? The Jews and Samaritans had been divided for centuries. Jewish pilgrims who passed through Samaritan territory were often assaulted. Jesus did the unthinkable for a Jew. He not only decided to travel through Samaritan territory at personal risk, but he also asked for hospitality in one of their villages! Jesus' offer of friendship was rebuffed. Is there any wonder that the disciples were indignant 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 toleration. Jesus had "set his face toward Jerusalem" to die on a cross that Jew, Samaritan and Gentile might be reconciled with God and be united as one people in Christ.
Tolerance is a much needed virtue today. But aren't we often tolerant for the wrong thing or for the wrong motive? Christian love seeks the highest good of both one's neighbor 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 treat those who cross you and cause you trouble? Do you seek their good rather than their harm?
"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."
2 Let my prayer come before you, incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit; I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one forsaken among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. [Selah]
8 You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a thing of horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape.