The Jews and the Samaritans had a contentious relationship. Perhaps like blacks and whites in the 60’s, or English man and Irish. So when Jesus wanted to travel through Samaria to Jerusalem (Jews typically traveled the long way around to avoid the Samaritans), the Samaritans did not welcome Him with open arms.
The disciples who were closest to Jesus, who had healed the sick and preached the gospel, who had heard the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, who had seen Jesus standing with Moses and Elijah, two of His closest disciple had a stunning solution: “Let’s commit genocide.”
WHAT? How could these two after being with Jesus, after seeing Jesus’ compassion, after seeing Jesus demonstrate unconditional love and forgiveness, after seeing Jesus eat and fellowship with sinners possibly think this was ok? How could they think Jesus would tolerate let alone sanction such a disregard for human life?
We are not that different from James and John. They thought they were defending Jesus. They thought Jesus would be happy with their plan. But like James and John, when we belittle, mock, scorn, fear, condemn people of different religions or races in the name of Christianity we are operating under a different Spirit.
When we advocate for police brutality, assignations of presidents, violence of any kind in the name of Christianity, we are operating under a different spirit.
When we allow our political affiliations or race to divide us, we are operating under a different spirit.
If we refuse to see the bias in our own heart, (James and John had been taught from an early age the Samaritans were unclean) we can easily find ourselves turning a deaf ear or justifying when unarmed people of color are killed or when certain religions or nationalities are profiled at airports and denied Visas.
James and John did mighty exploits for God despite the prejudice in their heart. But Jesus did rebuke their thought. He demonstrated love and compassion and eventually James and John learned the lesson: Everyone is valuable to God. No race, religion, or nationality is dispensable to God. We are all valuable.
“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. ” And they went to another village.” Luke 9:51-56 NKJV