My wife and I are reading through the Gospel of Luke for the month of December, per suggestion of a friend. It has been an incredible journey reading one chapter a day together, listening to one another share our hearts about different passages.
Last night, as we were reading chapter 9, something stuck out to me about the way the disciples lived that I could not shake.
Luke 9 is filled with all-over-the-place content, but there seems to be a central theme that Luke is trying to write about: Jesus spent countless hours empowering the twelve disciples to serve the community.
Unfortunately, the Gospel writers make it very clear that the twelve disciples did not understand the difference between having heart knowledge and head knowledge of who God is.
We see two different, yet connected examples of this in Luke 9:
"The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not (Luke 9:37-40, NIV).”
"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 9:51-56, NIV)."
Two examples of the disciples having opportunities to serve the community, and their responses are very different in each example.
The first example shows the disciples lack of faith. Matthew quotes Jesus in his Gospel declaring to the disciples that all they need is faith the size of a mustard seed and they can be unstoppable (see Matthew 17). Because of their lack of faith, they were not able to help the family in need. Jesus calls out the disciples for their lack of faith in Luke 9:41, calling them an "unbelieving and perverse generation."
Boy would I hate for my principle to call Jesus after a bad day of school.
The second example exposes the disciples arrogant and hateful hearts. The Jews and Samaritans despised each other. There is a history of bad-blood between the two communities that has resulted in years of hatred and abuse. It is interesting how the disciples have all of a sudden found the faith needed to perform a miracle when it includes calling down fire from Heaven to destroy their enemies...
But are we any different?
These two examples in Luke 9 expose the hearts of many Christ followers today: Little faith and arrogant hearts filled with hatred towards our enemies.
Jesus came to establish something different.
Something much simpler to understand, yet much more demanding to follow.
Love the Lord your God with all your hearts, and serve the least of these.
How are you living differently today to create a better tomorrow for your enemies?