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, and they went to another village. (Luke 9:51–56).
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35–38).
My Musings – I grew up in a world where even the “ungodly” (to a large extent), still held to traditional Judeo-Christian values in terms of distinguishing between right and wrong. Today, we are faced with a growing culture that is increasingly rejecting many of those values as outdated and irrelevant. We must not, as a Church, resort to a mentality of figuratively “calling down fire from heaven” in condemnation of the lost. Jesus had two responses:
- Compassion – “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
- Moved On – When the people “did not welcome Him,” He rebuked His disciples for their rush to judgment, and merely “went to another village.“
For those who firmly and finally reject Jesus, the fire will come soon enough. Ours is not to judge or condemn. Ours is to speak the truth in love. When the “pearls” we have to share are “trampled underfoot” by those who resolutely reject the message, we just move on. That does not mean we need to forsake them for all time. Prayer may soften their hearts, and a “more opportune” time may present itself. But because “the harvest is [indeed] plentiful but the workers are few” we may need to move on to the “harassed and helpless, [who] like sheep without a shepherd,” are more receptive to the message.
My Advice – Be slow to judge and condemn, and quick to show compassion. We were there once ourselves.