They didn’t believe in equal opportunity.
“Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from Heaven and consume them?” James and John asked.
The disciples cringed because the Samaritans rejected Jesus as He traveled through their homeland on His way to Jerusalem. They perceived the Samaritans as enemies. I imagine they were surprised when Jesus rebuked them rather than the Samaritans. Jesus knew the Samaritans misinterpreted His troubled face as disdain.
After all, how could Jesus be happy when some rejected Him? He had an inner joy, but His countenance showed He was wrestling with His greatest mission—paying the penalty for our sins. Jesus knew He would soon hang on Calvary’s cross and experience separation from the Fathe. Jesus would battle evil with holiness, but because He was sinless, He would overcome. He would purchase our salvation with His own life’s blood.
Perhaps, some of Jesus’ heartache came because the disciples who had walked with Him for three years still failed to show kindness to some. On this occasion, two of His inner three wanted to incinerate the Samaritans. Jesus, however, was ready to step into Hell’s flames to save them. He wanted His disciples to understand sacrificial grace.
If two of Jesus’ closest followers failed to show grace, we can only imagine how the other disciples grappled with Jesus’ Good News message. Jesus may have repeated portions of The Sermon on the Mount as He walked with His disciples.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 5:43-44 ESV
At times, I’m like James and John. Being kind to enemies goes against my fleshly nature. Although God judges the unrepentant, only He knows a person’s heart. God’s kindness extends far beyond what I view as possible.
If I take Jesus at His Word, my witness might be that person’s saving grace.
He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Hebrews 7:25 ESV
Jesus, the Great Intercessor, prays for people, and I must follow His example. And when practical, I must also reach out to them. The Samaritans may not have deserved Jesus’ grace, but He showed it anyway. The thieves who died with Jesus didn’t deserve it either, but He showed it to them also. And one of them accepted it. Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say unto you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 ESV).
I don’t deserve God’s grace either, but He showers love on me anyway. He does the same for you. Knowing this should make us eager to show grace to every person God sends our way.
When we show kindness, we lead unbelievers toward repentance. Unlike James and John, we need to be equal opportunity givers of kindness and grace.
I think of the person who led me to the Lord. I realized her relationship with God was genuine because of her kind responses when I tested her.
We should make it a daily practice to ask the Lord to fill our hearts with grace so the words that flow from our mouths are kind, even when someone is unkind.
What are some practice ways you can show others you believe in equal opportunity?
Lord Jesus, help me to be an equal opportunity giver of kindness and a conduit of Your grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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