The following is a reflection on Luke 9:51-62, the Gospel lesson appointed for Proper 8, year C, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
James and John, the Sons of Zebedee, to Jesus, about the Samaritans:
Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?
“Jesus, do you want us to burn people alive on your behalf?”
Is that even close to Jesus’ M.O.? Jesus, the Prince of Peace…the forgiveness and love-your-neighbor guy?
This is like one of those moments when your crazy uncle says something so ridiculously inappropriate that everyone just turns and stares with their mouth agape for a moment. [click to tweet this]
The one thing about this passage that makes me giggle though, is thinking about Jesus’ facial expression. I wonder if, like a teacher, he kept it together when his students acted out, only to turn away, roll his eyes, and face palm when they weren’t looking.
I will have to say, there is something a little cute about it though. They were trying to stick up for Jesus. The Samaritans had rejected him, and they were telling Jesus, however inappropriately, that they had his back.
It reminds me of a time not so long ago that our church grounds committee had painted the word “reserved” on the parking spaces in front of our home. Then a few days later the longest serving member of the parish pulled up in one of those spots to run into the church office for a moment. My youngest daughter, then about four years old, ran outside and yelled “You can’t park there! It’s reserved!”
Cute, but…a little over the top.
There was also a time when I was a seminarian, and I went on a jihad because women were wearing so much lipstick that it was coming off in chunks on the Communion Chalice. I wanted to make announcements, write letters for the newsletter, shame people in public…you get the point. My (wonderful) rector very politely heard me out, and then asked my, “What do you feel like you need to defend, and why do you feel like you need to do the defending?”
And, in the case of Jesus, He can take care of himself. That is one of the things that modern Christians forget all the time. We talk about God as if He’s omnipotent and omnipresent, but then we act like He’s a weakling who can’t defend Himself. [click to tweet]
Like God just isn’t up for the “War on Christmas.”
He needs some help. From cable-TV-personalities.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit can take care of Himself. God doesn’t need us defending Him. He’s got it. And, if there’s fire and brimstone to be had, then God is more than capable of making that happen.
God certainly desires our devotion, love, and thanks. But, when we trade those in for a crusade…we can all too often end up looking like James and John.