Moments in the life of a Pastor

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8. James and John – Give Them Thunder – Part 2

Luke 9:51-56

51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 So they went on to another village.

It’s here that we come to the:

  1. Rejection

Rejection was nothing new for Jesus in fact it’s how his ministry began. Matthew 13:57 tells us that Jesus was rejected by his hometown and they refused to believe in him, “And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.”Now toward the end of His ministry Jesus is still being rejected but notice it did not stop him then and it does not stop him now. He was rejected at the beginning, during and at the end of His ministry. But just because Jesus is rejected does not cause Him to reject His Father’s will. So many of us react to rejection instead of remaining focused. We focus on the attacks instead of on the Almighty. We let rejection cause us to reject God’s call because we focus on the problems instead of His plan. What about you are you being driven by rejection or the Redeemer? It’s here in the midst of the rejection that we see the:

  1. Retaliation

How did James and John react to Jesus rejection. Like them may of us react instead of responding. What’s the difference, one is based on our feelings the other is filtered through the heart of the Father. How we respond reveals our real heart. What these disciples requested reveal what they wanted, to release fire instead of forgiveness and freedom. For people to be reduced instead of rescued. What do you request fire or forgiveness? The truth is hurt people hurt and when James and John requested fire from heaven I think they were thinking of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:10 who called fire down on the king’s soldiers who wanted to arrest him. It’s so easy to take rejection personally, instead of making it about the person of Jesus. Look there will always be those who will receive and those who reject the Savior and the truth is Jesus came so they wouldn’t have to experience the fire and be vaporized. What do you desire to see released on people who reject Jesus, fire or forgiveness?  Do you desire to see people rescued or reduced?  While none of us like rejection the hidden benefit is that it will revealed your real heart. What it revealed for these disciples is that they wanted to judge, Jesus wanted to save. They wanted to demand their rights, Jesus gave them mercy. They responded in anger, Jesus responded in grace. Who do you know that is rejecting Jesus, what if right now you stop and take the time to pray for them? It’s here that in the midst of the retaliation that we see Jesus:

  1. Rebuke

Jesus rebuked them because He rejects retaliation as a response to rejection. Rather than responding according to the disciples wishes Jesus shows us the way that God responds to people who are not interested in Him… The “no way” people, He passes right on by. He does not stop…He does not punish but He does not go out of his way to persuade them he keeps on going. Why? Because He is following God’s plan to save them. Notice the people’s rejection does not redirect Jesus. So often we let rejection redirect and derail us. We let rejection consume our thought life until it poisons our attitudes and actions to the point where like the disciples instead of having a heart for people we just want to hurt people. So often we forget the big picture and we respond according to our feelings and pain instead of the Fathers plan. Don’t miss the true danger of rejecting Jesus. The danger of rejection isn’t what James and John, the Sons of Thunder, had in mind, it isn’t that God will strike us down on the spot. The danger of rejection is that Jesus will let us have our way. He never forces them to accept him, instead He just goes on to another village. If you choose to ignore the call of Jesus, the greatest danger is that he’ll let you. Jesus continued on to reach God’s goal, don’t let rejection be the obstacle that prevents you from following God’s plan. It’s here lastly that we see the:

  1. Redemption

So how did they respond to rebuke, they repented and became different people. That is the beauty of redemption we don’t have to remain the same. Look at the evidence of this change in Acts 8:14-17“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.God can make something out of messed up lives if we truly repent from our sins. James and John went from Samaria to Jerusalem requesting to call down destructive fire from heaven but in Acts 8:14 John went from Jerusalem to Samaria praying for these same people to receive the fire of the Holy Spirit. Are you bringing the fire of hurt or the fire of the Holy Spirit to bare in the lives of those around you?  Changing lives, that is the business which Jesus is in. John had the nickname “Son of Thunder” … but became known as “The Disciple of Love” who wrote in 1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” They didn’t remain the same because the reality of the cross changed their lives. That’s what the cross is all about, it’s not a place where sinners are vaporized but sin is vanquished. The question is, will we be like James and John before the cross responding out of rejection or after the cross responding from redemption?