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The Third Sunday After Pentecost C, June 26, 2022

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The Third Sunday After Pentecost C, June 26, 2022

A hardness has come over Jesus. He set his face to go to Jerusalem. The days drawing near pressed upon him with an immediacy heretofore unexpressed. He would be “taken up.” That time was at hand. Jesus must be in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of that time. The words “taken up” (Lk. 9:51) join the words “baptism” (Lk. 12:50) and “exodus” (Lk. 9:31) as three symbolic words standing in for Jesus’ entire mission. For the sake of this mission, Jesus has now set his face toward Jerusalem, echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore, I have set my face like a flint” (Is. 50:17).

This hardness… this resolve… this determination now casts its shadow over the following verses. The messengers had failed to secure the hospitality of the Samaritans. While traveling to Jerusalem, the people of the north usually passed through Samaria and had little difficulty in securing their hospitality. But these Samaritans would “receive him not.” Perhaps this is reminiscent of John telling us that these people, the Samaritans, were like Jesus’ own people, the Jews, in that they did not receive him (Jn. 1:11). Perhaps these Samaritans recognized the hardness in Jesus, knew he would not be staying to provide any preaching or miraculous healings, and so refused their hospitality like those in Nazareth who wanted to kill him (Lk. 4:29).

Whatever reason for the Samaritans’ rejection of Jesus and his disciples, James and John wanted to give them a prophetic punishment… a punishment anticipated by Elijah (2 Kings 1:9-12). Jesus rebuked them for desiring the fiery destruction of these unbelieving Samaritans. Though the calling down of fire from heaven was a prophetic practice, Jesus would not resort to such coercive and deadly punishment. This accords with his refusal to smite his enemies, call forth the heavenly host to rescue himself, or even to permit his disciples to use force in his defense. The Gospel does not need force or coercion. It converts. It relies on the work of the Holy Spirit in turning people from death to life. Such repentance moves them from unbelief to belief. For this, you need a preacher handing over Jesus Christ to be the life of dead sinners.

Table Talk: Discuss how readily humans are to punish rather than convert.
Pray: Heavenly Father, hold me in the confidence that Jesus has accomplished his mission “for me.” Amen

Luke 9:51-62 English Standard Version

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 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? 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, I will follow you wherever you go. 58 And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. 59 To another he said, Follow me. But he said, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. 60 And Jesus said to him, Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God. 61 Yet another said, I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home. 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God…”