When it came close to the time for his Ascension, he gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey to Jerusalem. He sent messengers on ahead. They came to a Samaritan village to make arrangements for his hospitality. But when the Samaritans learned that his destination was Jerusalem, they refused hospitality. When the disciples James and John learned of it, they said, “Master, do you want us to call a bolt of lightning down out of the sky and incinerate them?”
Jesus turned on them: “Of course not!” And they traveled on to another village.
On the road someone asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said.
Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.”
Jesus said to another, “Follow me.”
He said, “Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.”
Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!”
Then another said, “I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.”
Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (Luke 9:51-62)
When the Samaritans learned Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, they become inhospitable. Why? Because one of the big arguments between Jews and Samaritans was over the question of where to worship God. Jews insisted that Jerusalem was the only right place, while the Samaritans believed that only Mt. Gerazim would do.
James and John suggested Jesus simply wipe the Samaritans from the earth. They didn’t like Samaritans anyway. They believed they were headed to Jerusalem so Jesus could lead armies against the enemies of God. So why not start early and get rid of these troublesome, rude Samaritans?
Jesus told them no. They didn’t understand Jesus’ purpose at all, any more than those along the way who indicated a willingness to join Jesus, but wanted to wait awhile. Those who were giving Jesus excuses were doing so because they wanted to wait to see how things turned out. Was he really the Messiah? Would he really bring in the kingdom. They did not understand Jesus’ real purpose any more than John and James.
The Christian message is called “good news” for a reason. Jesus didn’t come to raise armies, he came to bring the kingdom of God to us by sacrificing himself on the cross for us. He offers us far more than any earthly kingdom. He offers us eternity.