For Devotional Reading from the Daily Lectionary: Luke 9: 51-62
Text: When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He (Jesus) turned and rebuked them.” (Vss. 54, 55)
I can totally understand James’ and John’s passion in the story. Though they shared a common ancestry there were long and deep divisions between the Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day. James and John felt as if the Samaritan village had “dissed” Jesus. To them their question was a matter of honor. But Jesus would have nothing of it.
His Kingdom, God’s Kingdom was not like other kingdoms. It was not territorial. It did not have borders. It was truly color-blind. People would not be brought under the reign of this Kingdom by force or threat. No, every knee would bow in response to a stronger force, a force that changes the heart. Love.
Love you enemies. If you enemy is thirsty, give him a drink. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray for those who hate you. Jesus was a radical calling others to join Him in this radical Kingdom.
Jesus knew that force of arms only brings a pseudo-submission. Resentment and revenge fester deep in the heart. But Love, well that is a different force. It softens the heart and brings about a real and lasting submission.
Love is not always soft. It may be hard because it looks out for the greater good. It equips for sustainability. You may be hated because you see a bigger picture. But in the end, Love is the only thing that truly wins.
Lord, soften my heart and teach me how to love those who are the hardest for me to love. Amen