Donald R. Elly, M. Div.
Luke 9:51-62 is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Rather than continuing to provide glimpses of the Kingdom of God breaking in right now through teaching, healing and references to the Torah, Luke writes, “When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus’ interactions with the disciples and those encountered on the road are directed to make clear what we as disciples have to do to become fit for the Kingdom.
In Luke 9: 51-55 when the Samaritans did not welcome Jesus because his face is set on Jerusalem—this phrase is used twice—underlining Jesus’ resolve. James and John react in anger and want to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them for their rejection. Jesus accepts the Samarian’s rejection. Jesus rebukes James and John.
Retribution is for Jesus a distraction from getting to Jerusalem which is his priority. I think how often we don’t learn from Jesus that doing what God asks is more important than rejection. We, like James and John, react and waste energy on those who appear to reject us.
What would happen to the development of the Kingdom of God if we followed Jesus‘ example. When are we going to learn that reacting in anger, while it may energize us, is not Jesus’ way here?
The second part of this passage, Luke 9:56-62, it seems to me, is more likely to be our problem today. Everything and everyone become a priority over the Kingdom. David Lose shares the excellent question raised by Michel Rogness in his commentary on this passage. “Does Jesus make a noticeable difference in our lives—so that what he wishes becomes a priority?”
Even more to the point: Does the grace, mercy, and love God revealed in Jesus come first we plan and shape our lives, or do we shape our faith to fit life as we’ve already planned it? Just as to be physically fit requires that we exercise, being fit for the Kingdom means we make listening to Jesus the priority and let that impact how we respond to everything else. Now there is anexcellent goal for a meaning-filled life.
July 30, 2019; Cycle C; 3rd Sunday of Pentecost
2nd Kings 2:1-14; Psalm 77:1-20; Gal. 5:1,13-25; *Luke 9:51-62