BYPASSING SAMARIA, DAY 7
Today’s reading is drawn from Luke 9:51-56.
Fueled by their prejudice against the Samaritans (John 4:9), Jews commonly bypassed their land by journeying along the east bank of the Jordan River. But traveling south from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples headed straight through Samaria (Luke 9:52). Jesus deliberately chose the more direct route, as if He welcomed a fight.
Confrontation erupted at the first village. The Samaritans did not want Jesus or His followers there, and the disciples surely did not want to be there. Insulted by the Samaritans’ rejection of Jesus, the disciples offered to call down fire from heaven. They argued that Elijah had done as much.
Centuries of ethnic hatred and bitterness nearly lit the flame of violence. No wonder Jesus emphatically rebuked His followers. He saw that they were blinded by their presumed religious and ethnic superiority. So He reminded them of His mission. He had come not to destroy people but to save them—including the Samaritans.
Christians today may react with condemnation rather than compassion toward people of another ethnicity or ideology. Our differences sometimes arise from legitimate concerns. But if we want to push people out of view or somehow eliminate them from a situation in order to reinforce our ethnic, moral, theological, or spiritual superiority, then we deserve the rebuke that Jesus gave the Twelve: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (9:55). As we read in John 3:17, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”