“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”Luke 9:54
Jesus and His disciples had entered a Samaritan village but they were apparently refused hospitality. James and John were incensed that they and Jesus should be treated this way so they asked Jesus if they could call down fire from heaven to destroy those people. They thought they knew Jesus but in fact they knew only their idea of Jesus. Jesus rebuked them quite strongly: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55-56).
We live in a world that has largely rejected Jesus Christ and governments that make decisions and pass laws that are contrary to God’s nature and will. Those who refuse to receive Jesus are becoming more hostile toward Him and His people with words and actions of hatred. The temptation for us is to think like James and John and want Jesus to bring down fire and judge the world now. It isn’t uncommon for an unbeliever to question God’s existence by asking why God doesn’t intervene. Of course God has and will intervene – but first He is saving all who want to be saved. John records, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). The next verse makes it clear that the world was already condemned (John 3:18).
Concerning the promise of the coming judgment in the Day of the Lord Peter writes, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The troubling times we are experiencing are the Lord’s provocation for people to seek Him. This is an opportunity for Christians to share the Gospel of Christ to more receptive hearts. Wickedness in the world should not provoke us to call down the fires of heavenly judgment but to show compassion. One of the symptoms that reveal that we have the same attitude as James and John is that we will cease sharing the Gospel and making disciples. Paul warned the Thessalonian Christians against this behaviour (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). For now we have an open door to make disciples of Jesus and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus gives us the assurance “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”