Fire And Brimstone
Ordinarily I'm easy going. When I'm rejected, however, I can get fiery. This is especially the case when I'm rejected for something that I'm passionate about, like racial unity in the family of God. For example, I was attending a ground breaking ceremony and a friend who hadn't seen me in a while asked, "So Dave, what are you up to these days?" I shared about teaching at Southern Bible Institute, founded in 1927 by Dr. Edmund H. Ironside while he was a student at Dallas Seminary. His immediate response was, "I guess you have to dumb it down."
His blanket assumption that academic standards had to be lowered teaching in a dominantly black school made me mad, and like the Sons of Thunder in Luke 9, I wanted to call down fire and brimstone.
"Now it came to pass as the days approached for His ascension, Jesus set His face firmly to proceed to Jerusalem. Before His arrival in an upcoming town, He sent messengers ahead. They went and entered a Samaritan village to make preparations for Him, but the residents of the town didn't welcome Him because He was heading for Jerusalem.
When James and John, His disciples saw this, they said, 'Lord, do You want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?' He turned and rebuked them. And they proceeded on to another village." Luke 9:51-54
In Jesus' time there was strong racial animosity between Samaritans and Jews and a lot of it had to do with where to worship. Samaritans believed that the place was on Mt. Gerazim and they built a temple there.
Josephus claims that this temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus, the High Priest in Jerusalem, in 121 BC ((Josephus, Antiquities, 13.25ff). It's clear that this animosity was still hot in the first century in Jesus' discussion with the Samaritan woman about whether Gerazim or Jerusalem was the right place to worship (John 4), but when Jesus' disciples expressed hatred against the Samaritans, Jesus didn't fuel hatred.
Jesus was headed for Jerusalem, the very place the Samaritans couldn't stand, but He was headed there not to glory in the beauty of the Temple, but to be rejected, to be lifted up on the cross, buried, and then lifted up out of the grave in the resurrection. His upward mobility would ultimately lead to heaven itself and a seat at His Father's right hand, but that day in Samaria He allowed the town folk to reject Him. There will come a day when Jesus will decide who gets thrown into the Lake of Fire, but today is the day of salvation, the day when Jesus allows folks to reject Him. He walks on because there is still time for them to change their mind and open their hearts.
LORD, provide some opportunities for my friend to use his gift of teaching to strengthen some African American brothers and sisters so that he can experience firsthand their gifts. Keep me from vindictiveness when I'm rejected or ignored. Help me remember that you made John, one of the Sons of Thunder, your most compassionate disciple.
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