Luke 9:49 ¶ John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.”
Luke 9:50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
Luke 9:51 ¶ When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Luke 9:52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him.
Luke 9:53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
Luke 9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
Luke 9:55 But he turned and rebuked them.
Luke 9:56 And they went on to another village.
“Lord! There is someone doing stuff similar to what we’re doing but we’re not sure if they are on the same team, so we tried to stop him because he’s not with us!”
Think that through for a minute.
Those poor disciples.
Jesus goes into a town and receives some hospitality. “We’re not staying long. We’re really on our way to the bigger and better city.”
“If our city isn’t good enough, you aren’t staying here! Get out!”
“Is this the part where we do Sodom and Gomorrah part 2 Jesus?”
This whole section is so crazy!
The disciples are territorial, even if people are getting healed of demons. The Samaritans are mad. Remember the woman at the well and her controversy over where people should worship? Evidently, there were Samaritans that were so bitter towards Jews favoring Jerusalem that they wouldn’t let Jesus stick around.
And then there are the thunder brothers. That was Jesus’ nickname for James and John! They had such a belief in their miraculous powers (remember they have preached in all the towns, cast out demons, healed the sick, etc.) that they thought calling down fire from heaven to consume the people was a viable option.
Look at how Jesus handles all of this hostility. Note that HE is not a part of any of it. He rebukes the people that will listen to Him. The disciples, honestly, are still learning. They don’t know how this whole Kingdom of Heaven works as far as they are concerned. It is kind of weird to have people outside of the disciples casting out demons, but whatever. They were doing it “in Jesus’ name” so it’s not like they were doing voodoo or something.
With the people that wouldn’t listen, Jesus just moved on. He didn’t try to change the Samaritans’ minds about letting Him stay. He just moved on to another town. That’s scarier than the fire raining down to me. They had their chance to be with Jesus and facing resistance, He just moved on. He wouldn’t come back to those people — ever.
Finally, this whole “the one who is not against you is for you,” bit. Let’s amplify that. If we are ‘for’ one another, let’s not be passive about it. There is enough division over a bunch of guys running after a thing in a field or on a court. There is enough division over two men shouting over each other on TV. If we aren’t divided, let’s really be FOR one another in Christ.
It might not look as cool, but it’s better than calling down fire.