Optimism in a Falling World- Luke 9:52-56

And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

COMMENTARY

And they did not receive him, and when James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
Yesterday I considered Jonah’s desire to destroy the wicked. Today we see an example from Jesus’s own disciples to do the same. Because Jesus and his followers were denied access to a city, James and John sought to kill all the inhabitants with fire.

But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

James and John might have believed they were serving the spirit of justice, yet Jesus avowed that they were serving another. What they sought was simply vengeance, and Jesus’s purpose was not to bring vengeance, but salvation.
I believe that many of those who hope for the destruction of the wicked take their cues from the stories of the Old Testament. It is in those early books that we read accounts of the earth being flooded, of fire and brimstone consuming cities, of the armies of the Lord stamping out other nations. In these stories there is a definite immediacy between evil actions and divine retribution. One could not go to war against God without quickly enduring the consequences of that action. But what is forgotten is that this was the Old Testament and the earth was in a fundamentally different situation than it is now. Mankind had been expelled from the Garden of Eden and the atonement had not yet been made. Things were far stricter, and there was little to buffer between sinful acts and the holy justice administered in return.
But Jesus Christ had come to be that buffer. Jesus Christ had come so that the immediate justice for evil works could be born out in his own body instead. Divine justice still applies, even to this day, but now it is executed in him, while mankind is given a second chance.
Thus today we now live under the New Testament. And that means that if we look at the evil in the world today and crave punishment for the guilty, we are denying the fact that that punishment was already endured by our Savior. We are therefore looking for a double punishment, one carried out upon Christ and one carried out upon those he died to save. That isn’t justice at all. Like James and John, we are not comprehending what manner of spirit we are of. It is a cold, cruel, and evil spirit, one that has nothing to do with Christ.

Influence and Persuasion- 1 Kings 12:13-14, 16

And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.

COMMENTARY

And the king answered the people roughly, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
I finished my previous post by mentioning that Satan’s methods of influence are designed around getting immediate results. Fear and intimidation are powerful motivators, ones which cause people to do what is wanted in the moment. No doubt this was Rehoboam’s desire when he spoke so roughly to the Israelites and promised a harsh hand as their ruler.
And he is far from the only tyrant that has been willing to employ these methods. I am sure that each of us can recall times that these same methods have been used on us, forcing us to bend to another’s will. I am sure that we can also recall times that we used these methods ourselves at the expense of another.
The temptation to use fear and intimidation is powerful because they really can be effective at getting what we want for ourselves in the moment.

The people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David.
But those “in the moment” results come at a great cost. So long as the will of another is bent to your own they will hate you, and in return for their momentary obedience you sow their eventual rebellion. Rehoboam saw this firsthand.
I am reminded of an experience I had with a mother on my mission. She explained to me that she knew the church spoke against beating one’s children, but she was seeing much better results ever since she had resumed the practice. I can absolutely believe that her children fell in line for the moment, but long-term she was sowing hatred in the hearts that should love her best.
So many of us are willfully selling the love and loyalty of those we care for, simply because we have to have something right now.