02 February 2011

Jesus Confronts Our Prejudices

 Luke 9:51-56

Disciples are students.  Disciples should be constantly learning from their teacher.  In becoming disciples or apprentices to anyone, we recognise the expertise of the master that we do not have but want to gain.  In recognising the expertise of the master, we are wise to be willing to change every habit and every thought that may keep us from following our master's instructions.

If we recognise Jesus as the master of life, we are wise to be willing to change every habit and every thought about life that may keep us from following our His instructions. 

This is why disciples of Jesus find many ways of Jesus difficult.  We have been learning about life since conception.  We have many habits and many thoughts that are just plain wrong.  If this wasn't the case then we would be making life better for everyone.  But, we only need a brief, truthful examination to know this is not the case.

The message that Jesus preaches is a call to discipleship, "Repent.  For the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  At it's core, discipleship is about change.  Proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Saviour is about humbling ourselves and submitting our way so that we can learn His way.

This is why Jesus cannot work with people who have hard hearts.  If we are set in our ways, we cannot follow Jesus' instructions.

Jesus had performed many wonderful miracles in Samaria before.  He had convinced many Samaritans that he is the Messiah, the one who was sent by God to save his people.  And yet, this time he is rejected.  Why?  Because he is going to Jerusalem.  In their mind, Jesus going to Jerusalem is Jesus taking sides in the generations-old debate between Jew and Samaritan about where was the proper place to worship God.

Was Jesus really taking sides in this debate?  No.  He already explained his position to one Samaritan woman.  He would do in Jerusalem what he had done in other Galilean and Samaritan towns, announce to his people, "Repent.  For the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Ultimately, he would go to Jerusalem because that is where he is supposed to be judged and killed by his people.

Do these facts and teachings matter to these Samaritans?  No.  Anyone who goes to Jerusalem to worship is an enemy of Samaria, period.  They were set in their hearts on this.  They would not learn otherwise.  So, Jesus is not welcome there.

In turn, Jesus' Jewish disciples want to punish the Samaritans.  The disappointment and anger in Jesus' rebuke must have been clear.  How quickly did James and John allow the hardness of their hearts to cause them to forget what Jesus had been teaching them all along?

Father, I know nothing.  You and your Son know everything.  Change my heart, O God.  Keep it soft and tender so that you can change it into the heart that you need to serve in Your kingdom.

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