Sons of Thunder

In today’s reading we have the strange little story of the Samaritan opposition to Jesus (Luke 9:51-55). Generally in the gospels, the Samaritans come across as good guys. How much “gooder” can you get than the “Good Samaritan?” But somehow, these Samaritans didn't get the memo and they refuse to roll out the red carpet to Jesus.


The Samaritans and the Jews were enemies. As is often the case, their religious differences blended with their ancient land hostilities to the point where these two groups pf people simply detested each other. And this story reminds us that the hatred ran both ways; all Samaritans were not good Samaritans. Here a Samaritan village refuses to receive Jesus because he has “resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (v. 51). They in effect said to Jesus, “If you are going THERE, then you aren’t welcome HERE!” The guy on the road to Jericho was lucky that these weren't the Samaritans who found him beaten up by thieves!

Just to show that they were much more mature spiritually, James and John volunteered to call down fire from heaven to destroy these pertinent Samaritans. Jesus had told thm earlier in the chapter that if people refused to welcome them, they were to “shake the dust off your feet” (v. 4). Evidently, that wasn't dramatic enough, so the “Sons of Thunder” volunteered to go all Elijah on them and call down fire from heaven. Why this response? One has to suspect that their sudden zeal had as much to do with the fact that these were Samaritans (whom they didn't like) that were dissing Jerusalem (which they did like) as much as rejection of Jesus (which they should have been used to by now). They never offered to call down fire on the Pharisees, did they? They hated the Samaritans already, so it was easy to judge their sin.

Here’s a question for you. Why are many (most?) Christians ready to call down fire from heaven to condemn homosexuality as sin and homosexuals as sinners? Is it because the holiness of the Lord burns within us? If so, then why aren't we just as ready to call down fire on other sins? I wonder why we don’t go after sins like greed (which is as idolatry), lying (remember Rev. 21:8) and divorce (which God says he HATES)? Why do Christians seem to hate homosexuality while sometimes giving a free pass to sins that are actually condemned MORE OFTEN in the Bible? Simple. We hate homosexuality anyway. We do. It’s gross. It’s unnatural. It’s a perversion. We harshly condemn it for the same reason James and John were ready to call down fire on the Samaritan village. We hate it anyway!

Please. PLEASE don’t read this as “Gay is OK” article. It’s not. Homosexuality is gross, unnatural and a perversion... just like greed, lying and divorce. All sin is a gross, unnatural perversion of God’s holy will and what He created us to be. My point is not that we should learn to tolerate homosexuality MORE. My point is that we should learn to tolerate greed, lying and divorce LESS. Jesus rebuked James and John and their willingness to judge the Samaritans. He will rebuke us and our inconsistencies over where we demand holiness and where we tolerate unholiness. Maybe we need to spend less time looking at the culture and more time looking in the mirror.