February 26, 2022
“When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, Jesus determined to journey to Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead of Him...”
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"When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, Jesus determined to journey to Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead of Him, and on the way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for Him. But they did not welcome Him, because He determined to journey to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them? But He turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village." Luke 9:51-56
A Samaritan, in Jesus' day, was a person of mixed (Jewish/Gentile) descent. In ancient history, Israel was divided nationally and spiritually. Ten tribes formed what was known as "Israel" (aka The Northern Kingdom), while the remaining two tribes, Judah & Benjamin, formed what was known as "Judea" or the "Southern Kingdom." Judea worshipped in Jerusalem, and Israel worshipped in Samaria.
In Samaria, Israel's great evil was idolatry. Their rejection of worship in Jerusalem and their acceptance of pagan deities grew to where they were intermarrying with Gentiles. The presence of these "half-breeds" in Israel (in Jesus' day) was a reminder of its historic national sin. It was also the focus of prejudice for the average-to-religious Jew. Note James & John's attitude. They wanted the judgment of Sodom & Gomorrah to fall on the Samaritans.
So, why wouldn't Samaria want Jesus to go to Jerusalem? The answer may be found in John's gospel: The Woman at the Well. John 4:1-42 Before the events of today's passage, Jesus had engaged in a conversation with a Samaritan woman of ill reputation. The setting was "Jacob's Well," located in Samaria. The symbolism is that Jacob was the father of Israel's 12 tribal patriarchs. Jesus is speaking with a woman who symbolizes the spiritual character of a "kind-of" Jewish person and who are dark reminders of Israel's not-so-faithful history.
By the way, modern Judaism considers Jewish believers in Jesus in the same light as their forefathers did the Samaritans of Jesus' day: Partly Jewish + partly Gentile = Apostate.
Jesus' offering of "living water" (different from Jacob's well water) to this Samaritan woman was culturally and spiritually revolutionary. Remembering that He came to "the Jew first," we must deduct that Jesus was officially recognizing the Samaritans' "Jewishness" while still holding to the Biblical standard for true belief and salvation.
In response, the woman ran and told the Samaritan men, who came to hear Jesus. They, too, believed and told the woman, "We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is Messiah!" John 4:42
So, why did the Samaritans in Luke 9 not welcome Jesus on His way to Jerusalem? I believe it's because they loved Him, and they knew what the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem would do to Him. Yet, they were wrong in this because they were actually hindering His mission in trying to protect Jesus.
Let's not commit the same offense! We don't need to protect Jesus or His "image." We must simply believe in Him, pray, and seek His Word. And we must trust His Word when we share the gospel, not adding to or withholding from it. We must share the whole gospel, letting Jesus complete the work He intends to accomplish in the lives of those with whom we share the gospel.