John and the Spirit of Fire

 “It was about time for Jesus to be taken up into heaven. He turned toward Jerusalem and was sure that nothing would stop Him from going.”    {Luke 9:51}

The time has come for Jesus to head into Jerusalem.  He knows he is going to be arrested and crucified when he arrives.

“He sent men on ahead of Him. They came to a town in Samaria. There they got things ready for Jesus. 53 The people did not want Him there because they knew He was on His way to Jerusalem.”  {Luke 9:52-54}

Jesus sends his men to prepare his way in Samaria, which was on the way to Jerusalem, from his current destination.  “ He sent some to make ready for him, not for state, but convenience, and that his coming might be no surprise.“    {Matthew Henry Commentary}

So, how did the Samarians receive him?  

They were rude and did not want him there. “They did not receive him, would not suffer him to come into their village, but ordered their watch to keep him out. He would have paid for all he bespoke, and been a generous guest among them… He would have been, if they pleased, the greatest blessing that ever came to their village, and yet they forbid him entrance.”   {Matthew Henry Commentary}

But, why would they not receive him?

“Now the reason was because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem; they observed, by his motions, that he was steering his course that way. The great controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans was about the place of worship… And so hot was the controversy between them that the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans, nor they with them.”  {Matthew Henry Commentary}

James and John are furious at the way Jesus is being treated.  So what do they propose to do?

“James and John, His followers, saw this. They said, “Lord, do You want us to speak so fire will come down from heaven and burn them up as Elijah did?””  {Luke 9:54}

Remember where Jesus named the brothers “sons of Thunder” when they first met?

Maybe, this is the reason?  They were going to speak fire down from heaven and burn the people up.  One thing is for sure, they were fierce in the protectiveness of Jesus.

But how did Jesus respond? 

“Jesus turned and spoke sharp words to them. (*He said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you have. The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives. He came to save them from the punishment of sin.” They went on their way to another town.”  {Luke 9:55-56}

Jesus rebuked them.

“he reproof– he gave to James and John for their fiery, furious zeal; He turned with a just displeasure, and rebuked them; for as many as he loves he rebukes and chastens, particularly for what they do, that is irregular and unbecoming them, under colour of zeal for him.”  {Matthew Henry Commentary}

He explains why their zeal is unbecoming.

“He shows them in particular their mistake: Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; that is, “You are not aware what an evil spirit and disposition you are of; how much there is of pride, and passion, and personal revenge, covered under this pretense of zeal for your Master.”   {Matthew Henry Commentary}

Isn’t it easy to look down on others or boast ourselves up with pride, passion, zeal or revenge?  We see it in others often, but do we notice it in ourselves? 

If Jesus, didn’t want James and John to act with zeal, then how does he want them to act?

““You do not consider what a good spirit, directly contrary to this, you should be of…Have you not been taught to love your enemies, and to bless them that curse you, and to call for grace from heaven, not fire from heaven, upon them? “   {Matthew Henry Commentary}

Do you act with zeal and revenge or with forgiveness and love?

Images from

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.