Jesus was accustomed to rejection as he walked the earth. The same is true for today as people reject the Lord. It does not change his love for them, nor does it change the truth they must face eternal judgment for their rejection. Jesus sketched out for us a roadmap on how to deal with those who reject Him and how to view them. May we take careful heed to pay attention.
“When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them and they journeyed to another village” (Luke 9:51-55)
Rejection was nothing new for Jesus. He had already experienced much rejection in His short life before making his journey to Jerusalem and entering Samaria. His Galilean ministry started with rejecting him from those who were from his hometown. His own hometown rejected Him. His disciples became eager to cast immediate judgment on those who rejected Jesus and to see the consequences of their sinful behavior right before their eyes. Are we not just like them sometimes? Do we not just desire God to bring forth fire and burn up all those whose who reject Him or sin against Him?
James and John wanted to call down fire just like Elijah and see those who rejected Jesus burn as a result of their rejection. They wanted to see the immediate judgment of those who were rejecting Christ. We get in that thinking many times as well.
We start to wonder why God does not just do horrible things to those living in such evil and sin. Why does God just not send forth fire to burn up the homes of child sex traffickers, drug dealers, child abusers, and murderers? Why does God not flood Planned Parenthood officers with tsunamis, hurricanes, and destroy them with tornados? Many would admit they do not pray for those who have committed horrendous and unspeakable acts, such as terrorists or murderers. In fact, many of those individuals would admit they refuse to pray for those people.
We watch the news, scroll through social media and see people who have committed heinous acts against others and we scream “God why can’t you just send fire down to kill them”. We easily and readily type condemning words against those we do not even know, but we base our judgment on their actions and not the mercy or desires of Christ.
Christ did something different. He walked away. He did not allow judgment to immediately come and He did not condone their rejection of Him either. He simply walked away. Jesus knew what we know as well. Judgment was coming, but not in our time. Judgment is coming in God’s time.
There were times Jesus rebuked others in public, primarily his own disciples. He rebuked Peter in front of the rest of the disciples, He called out the Pharisees and Sadducees for their hypocrisy, He turned over the tables in the temple and ran people out with whips that were there for the wrong purposes.
Jesus set for us an example that sometimes judgment comes against sin here on earth. However, sometimes we must wait and walk away. Discernment is key. Patience is crucial.
As Christians, we must always be eternity focused. We must seek a person’s salvation first and desire for them to face judgment second. That means we are to call sin out as what it is – sin. We are to urge people to repent of sin, specifically habitual sin. We are to urge people to live a lifestyle pleasing to God, repent, and live under the lordship of Christ. We can urge a person’s repentance, pray for their repentance and for God’s mercy, without seeking to “call down fire” upon them.
Sharing the Gospel of Jesus is up to us and Christ commands us to do it well. Judgment is the Lord’s. Let us urge people to repent, rebuke and call out sin, and share the love and mercy of Christ while we await His judgment on those who reject it.