As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. So they went on to another village. (NLT)
We may not like to think about it, but there may be some people we come across who we figure might deserve a bit of divine retribution. Some thunderbolt from the sky might teach them a lesson or two. All in the name of divine justice of course!
This was the attitude of the disciples as Jesus headed towards Jerusalem to die. A Samaritan village refused him hospitality: not surprising given ancient hostilities between Jews and Samaritans. The disciples thirsted for revenge. “Come on Jesus, you have the power, give them what they deserve; show them who is boss!”
Jesus refuses to play such games. Of course there is such a thing as divine judgement. But hurling thunderbolts from heaven on some hapless villagers because they didn’t provide some hospitality is going a bit far. His followers, despite being with him intensively, hadn’t learnt a whole lot. They, like we, are slow learners.
Jesus will not have us lick our lips at the thought of his enemies being destroyed. He will not have us eagerly pursue personal revenge. There will be a time and place for all things to be put right in the name of justice. But for now there is the ongoing offer of mercy. No thunderbolts.