Rejection and it’s Response
The text for this week is Luke 9:51-62. This sees Jesus and the disciples on the road to Jerusalem and Jesus’s final fate. On the way they pass through a Samaritan village, but they will not receive him. The text in verse 53 says “they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem”. This reflects the animosity between Jews and Samaritans.
Upon being rejected James and John, lacking in faith all throughout the New Testament, suddenly decide to call down “fire to come down from heaven and consume them”. (Verse 54) This is an all too human response to being rejected. This is, however, not the response that is acceptable to Jesus. This is made clear in verse 55 when “he turned and rebuked them”. This is a crucial lesson that is repeated elsewhere in the texts; we are never to respond to those who reject the gospel with violence. If someone does not wish to hear or receive the gospel or offer us hospitality, then move on! This is the only acceptable response for a follower of Jesus. If we learn nothing else from the earthly example of Jesus than this, we will have done well.
The Hardship of Discipleship
As if not reacting violently is not hard enough, Jesus outlines some of the other hardships that befall his followers. It will be difficult, as Jesus points out, as even foxes have holes and birds have nests but not the Son of Man, or his followers. They have no place to rest their heads. What beckons is a life on the edges of respectability. A hard and marginalized life awaits these hardy followers of Jesus, and perhaps us.
The other thing Jesus is calling for is immediacy. He is calling believers to follow him right now. Do not wait, do not think twice, simply follow Jesus now. This is such an immediate call to follow that Jesus even tells a prospective disciple to not even bury his dead father. Another is told don’t bother to say goodbye to those at home, as there is no time. This is hard stuff indeed, but no one, especially Jesus, said that discipleship would be easy.
The other lesson, which is also a piece of hardship is that we are not to look back. Jesus uses an agricultural analogy that would have been familiar to those who heard him speak it. “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Verse 62). As any farmer would know, if you are plowing and look back you will not plough a straight furrow. We must always keep our eyes forward and our vision to the future. We should do this with hopeful anticipation of an eternal relationship with our Father, but with no illusions to the price that is likely to be paid in the here and now.
This story reminds us of the loving, gracious way we are to treat even those who oppose us, as Jesus always did. It also reminds us that our call. regardless of the high price to be paid, is to believe, then to obey.
Praise Be to God