Welcome to a Special Edition Daily Digest!
During Holy Week we have six special Daily Digest Devotions for you. These devotions will be posted at 6am daily from Monday, April 11th through Saturday, April 16th. In addition to the Daily Digest, tune in to Facebook Live each day at noon for a discussion of the day's topic.
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
On more than one occasion, I have asked God why He no longer lets us strike down our enemies. I have prayed prayers of death and destruction, which unsurprisingly continue to go unanswered. I have struggled when God allows those who have inflicted pain on me to get away unscathed. I have often wished that the call to follow Jesus was easier, especially when it comes to loving my enemies. But that is my agenda and not Jesus'.
Jesus' mission has always been "to seek and to save the lost," to heal the brokenhearted, and to bring those who are far away near to Himself. It's clear Jesus took this mission seriously. The Hebrew idiom "to set one's face" means that Jesus made an internal commitment to go to Jerusalem. He knew that His mission would be won on the cross, so He committed to seeing it through. Though Jesus' disciples failed to understand His mission and Samaritan villages rejected Him, nothing could set Him off course.
To the contemporary reader, Jesus' choice to travel through Samaritan villages may seem like no big deal, but to the first century Jew, it could have meant war. Samaritans and Jews not only hated each other, but they also both believed that they possessed the exclusive place where Yahweh could be worshipped. For the Samaritans, it was Mount Gerizim. For the Jews, it was Jerusalem. So it makes sense why the Samaritans would have refused to welcome travelers heading to Jerusalem. What neither the Samaritans nor Jesus' Jewish disciples realized is that Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to die for our sins, so that members from both groups could become Yahweh's children and belong to one family.
It's so unnatural to consider an enemy becoming family. We are naturally like James and John: quick to defend Jesus in our own way and slow to love our enemy in His way. Yet—if we follow Jesus—then His mission to save the lost is our mission, His prerogative to bring healing is our prerogative, and His heart to reconcile enemies needs to be our heart. So, Jesus often rebukes us like He rebuked James and John. He rebukes and then carries on, patiently inviting us to continue following Him. He is as patient with us bull-headed followers as He is with those who are still in darkness. Thankfully, His choice is to keep moving to the next village, so that He can fulfill His mission to seek and to save, to redeem and reconcile so that all of us can become and belong.
Who do you find hard to love?
How might the Holy Spirit be calling you to love that person?
What about our call and mission as followers of Jesus do you find difficult?
What assumptions about or prejudices toward others is Jesus calling you to lay down so that you can follow Him to the cross?
Join Pastor Daniel today at noon on Facebook Live for a discussion of today's devotion.