51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them ?" 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.
Thoughts: The King James says, "He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." Isaiah 50:7 has the similar words that "the Lord God will help me...therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." From Luke 9:51 to 18:1, Luke records some unique sayings of Jesus given in the light of his knowing he was going to Jerusalem to die. Ironically, he was going to die, and his death opened up salvation to the non-Jews- including the Samaritans. But the Samaritans did not welcome him though he was going to die for them. James and John, the sons of thunder, wanted to push the nuclear bomb button and blow the Samaritans away. They didn't like them anyway. But Jesus was much more merciful. He was going to save them from the wrath they deserved, not blow them away. In a graceless age where we condemn quickly those who differ from us, especially those who look, speak and act differently (the way the Samaritans were seen as foreigners and enemies by the Jews of their day), we might do well to remember Jesus' mercy. He was clearly determined to be merciful- for He was going to Jerusalem to show mercy not wrath.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that you do not treat us as our sins deserve or reward us according to our iniquities. Help me to be merciful because you have shown me mercy.
John Calvin abridged: We see here 1) the divine courage of Christ in despising death 2) the enmities produced by differences in religion; 3) the impatient fervor of the disciples; 4) the example Christ sets for meekness. We see here that Christ struggled with his death and overcame his terror. If he did not dread, or was not anxious, had no difficulty or struggle, then he would not have had to set his face steadfastly. This does not diminish his glory, but shows us the great love He has for us. He laid aside his own self-regard for our salvation.