“He sent messengers ahead of Him, and on the way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for Him. But they did not welcome Him, because He determined to journey to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ But He turned and rebuked them…” – Luke 9:52-55a
Why was this situation different from the countless other times that people had rejected Christ? Hadn’t he been mocked by the religious “elite” of Israel, laughed at by those in His hometown? Why on this day did the disciples react with such great emotion? What was stirring their disregard for those around them? Hadn’t Jesus been teaching them to love all people and that everyone was in need of His truth? What provoked such hatred from the disciples?
Maybe you think hatred is a strong word, surely the disciples didn’t hate those who were rejecting Jesus; surely they were simply demonstrating unbridled zeal. Or was something else in play? Interestingly, it was John, arguably Jesus’ closest friend that is credited with the vile, murderous words of contempt. “Do You want us to call down fire from Heaven to consume them?” I imagine it may have caused a great deal of sorrow for Jesus to see such a shallow emotion as that of racism being displayed by those He was working so diligently to teach. Even worse, they tried to conceal their sin by making it appear to be a statement of righteousness. They didn’t just want these people to die, they wanted Heaven itself to open up and destroy them.
Racism is seen in many forms every day. It is the exact opposite of what Christ came to declare: all people are valuable, created equally by the creator, loved equally by that same creator. We are called to imitate that love. Although it can be uncomfortable to think about, how similar are the disciples’ sentiments to that of Hitler? Both wanted to destroy others simply based on their race. Racism has been with us for thousands of years; it strikes everyone from the madmen (Hitler) to the seemingly devoted followers of Christ (the disciples). We are fed the concepts of racism through what we listen to, what we watch, what we read and what we have been taught as we were growing up. We must never forget that racism is purely of the devil. Jesus had no room for it, nor any patience for those who did.
Jesus rebukes our racism; let us rid all traces of it from ourselves.