I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!
Scripture: Luke 2:15-20; 9:51-56
In Luke 9:51-56, when Jesus and the disciples were passing through a Samaritan village on their way to Jerusalem, the Samaritans reject them. They won’t let them stay in their town. This gives James and John a brilliant idea: “Lord, do you want to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
Their suggestion is not without precedent. In 2 Kings 1, an evil king named Ahaziah sends soldiers to arrest the prophet Elijah. Elijah is sitting on a hill when the commanding officer says, “O man of God, the king says to come down.” Elijah says, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your men.” And that’s exactly what happens. Twice.
To their credit, at least James and John know that Jesus is much greater than Elijah. And since that’s true, why shouldn’t the fire of God’s judgment fall on these Samaritans who’ve rejected him?
Of course, this is unimaginable to us. We hear this story and feel morally superior to James and John. After all, we would never want the fire of God’s judgment to come down and consume people who reject Jesus Christ. Right?
Before you answer, consider this: At this moment, there are tens of thousands of people within a few miles of our church who are currently rejecting Jesus Christ. What do we believe will happen to them if they persist in their unbelief?
Unless we make sharing the gospel with them our highest priority, aren’t we saying—either out of fear, indifference, or benign neglect—that we’re O.K. with the fire of God’s judgment falling on them?
By contrast, consider the response of the shepherds when they receive the “good news of great joy” of the gospel: They go “with haste” not only to see the baby Jesus but to share what they had seen and heard with the Mary and Joseph. When they return home, they continue to praise and glorify God. They continue to share this good news with others.