Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Freedom and Boundaries

Tuesday, April 7, 2020  
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. 
Luke 9:51-53
Freedom and Boundaries Jesus was on the road from Galilee toward Jerusalem when He comes to a small Samaritan village. His time on earth was drawing to a close, so He wanted to go to Jerusalem. He sent messengers on ahead of Him to this Samaritan village to make arrangements for a place for Him to stay. They did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. Suddenly they are caught up in the heat of racial and religious warfare between Jews and Samaritans, for when the people of that village discover that these Galileans intended to continue their journey the next day to Jerusalem, hospitality is denied.
For this to happen in a small village of the Middle East in that day and age tells us volumes. It tells us that the conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews had become so serious that normal trade and commerce between these two peoples had entirely broken down. The conflict between the Jews and the Samaritans in those days was as troublesome as it is between Jews and Palestinians today.

Physical, political and racial barriers restrict freedom, as well as economic, religious, social, ethnic, cultural and other individual differences. While an individual may be free, they may live in a country that is not. These disciples could have negotiated passage, but it was unlikely there would be a trust level large enough to allow them to pass due to the experiences of these people with others.
Some of the boundaries that exist in our lives are perceptions of others from past experiences which may cause them to block our advances into their lives. There are all kinds of limits on our lives from the attitudes and perspectives of others as we have been taught that one man’s freedom ends at the point of another man’s nose.
Knowing that Jesus will not accept either racism or anti-Semitism, the disciples urge Jesus to literally fight the fire of prejudice with the fire of God's almighty wrath. They suggest that the power of God's wrath might be invoked against the Samaritans for denying hospitality to their small band of pilgrims. "Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?" 

It's clear the disciples had in mind something quite like our Fourth of July celebration. Only it would not be fireworks rising up toward the heavens, but the lightening and fire of almighty God raining down upon the helpless people of that small Samaritan village. Without hesitation, Jesus turns upon the disciples and rebukes them for daring to suggest such a thing. And without stopping to debate the issue further, they continue on their way.
The Disciples had a very human response to the aggression they encountered. I giggled as I read it because how many of us have wished fire to come down from heaven and consume someone - honestly? But Jesus reminds them (and us) that their scheme of revenge is not God’s way. Jesus never fought fire with God’s wrath. His way was always to love the unlovable, to love the ones that hated Him, to love the ones that no one else thought deserved love. The very cause of this shunning was because the Jews and Samaritans hated each other so much. Jesus knew that the only way to fight hate is not with more hate, but with love. Of course, the Samaritans were not having any of that, so Jesus and the disciples quietly went on their way. 

Laws made to protect the freedoms of some can quickly turn to laws enforced to control the behavior of all men. We are experiencing a lot of restrictions right now for the greater good of our country.  We are all being called to sacrifice a little freedom to possibly save some lives.  Jesus was not a stranger to sacrificing freedom for the greater good. In fact, He sacrificed His whole life for the salvation of all mankind. Right now is a time of sacrifice for all of us. If we remember Jesus and His sacrifice for us during this time, maybe that will help us keep things in perspective.

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