Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To Another Village

And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, 
he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 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.
Luke 9: 51-56

His mind was full and his heart felt like water in his chest, sloshing heavily as he trudged through the packed dirt and rocks on the road to Jerusalem.  He alone knew what was to come.  His robe was stained from travel, sweat and dust patterned like the brushwork of tides sweeping the floating things from the sea into great arcs along the shoreline of homespun wool.  Sandals, dusty and threadbare, embraced his feet, protection from the heat of the road, from sole-cutting sharp edges, from heel-bruising stones.

His disciples were with him.  As were followers, sometimes tens, sometimes hundreds, softening the silence with talk, and singing.  

It was a penurious group.  Always needing something.  A word.  A smile.  A touch.  Surrounding him.  Brushing against him.  Wanting him - doubters and believers.  To notice.  To affirm.  To talk to them.  To give them hope.  To describe a better life, to promise a better time, to lead them.  To love them.  And he did love.  He loved them all - beggars, widows, thieves, soldiers - all.  Even the priests.  Even the children.  Especially the children.

But today his mind and heart were full of sadness - inexpressible, undeniable sadness.  His face was set for Jerusalem.  And what was to come.  What had to come.  He felt lonely in the knowledge.

Abba, he prayed silently, help me to bear this burden of knowing.  Strengthen me to it.  You are my fortress, my shield.  You are.

Jerusalem.  Not the mountain at Gerizim, near Sychar of the Samaritans, whose village he approached.  Jerusalem. The city his ancestor David had claimed - city of the great Temple of Solomon, sacked, destroyed, and built again - city of towers and walls.  City of priests.  City of Romans.  City of crosses. Where soon he would draw his last mortal breath.

But first, first he needed lodging.  Tomorrow would come in its own time.  In this moment, he needed to rest.

Eyes sifting the crowd, he chose two messengers.  "Go," his chin pointed down the road.  "Seek accommodation there."  The Samaritan village was small, stone walls highlighted in the late afternoon sun, the rays filtered down from the sky in a golden halo.  Yahweh was pointing the way.  Again.

The man thirsted for the freshness of well water untainted by travel-worn wineskins and dust.  He thirsted for renewal, like the country-scape surrounding him.  What had been dry and lifeless now burst with new growth - saturating the land in a tapestry of bright green and threads of surprising color.  Mood lifting, he raised his eyes to the light.  See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.  Yes, it was the season of singing.  Thank you, Father.  Thank you for reminding me.  Thank you for joy. 


The voice interrupted.


Jesus studied the returned messengers.  He already knew what they would say.  He read their disappointment.  Between the lines, in the clenching of fists and the tightness of neck, he also saw their anger.  It was a long road, this mission.  And he wasn't done yet.  

They spit the words out, "They will not accept us.  They do not want anything to do with the Festival in Jerusalem - nor with those who travel there.  They will not accept us."

Anger spread through the watchers.  "Rain fire on them!"  He recognized the voices, James and John, his Sons of Thunder.  He held the twitch of his smile sternly under control - no, definitely not done teaching yet.

He understood weariness.  He felt the rage, barely contained, swaddled in tired like a hungry babe.  He felt the mood of the crowd overwhelmed like beating back flames with a ladle - too easily engulfed in heat, by fire licking at wounds of pride - turned away by Samaritans!  At wounds of want - rest and refreshment.  Fire feeding wounds of oppression.  Wounds laid open on this road to Jerusalem.

Again, voices from the crowd - "You have the power - Do as Elijah did - consume them with fires from heaven!"

 He understood.  He felt.  He knew.  Eyes reflecting golden light, he stood, slowly straightening.  Wistfully, he turned from the walls of the village, and once again fixed his gaze on the road to Jerusalem.

"No."  The calm thunder of his voice washed over the flames of emotion.  "We will not rain smoke and thunder from the sky to destroy"  He answered the questions, the uncertainty, the righteousness and judgement in their faces.  His voice, the voice they loved, became softer, echoing from a deep place inside.  "I am not here to destroy, but to bring peace."

And they went to another village.

Such a short story in scripture.  It is one paragraph, and only mentioned in Luke.  I can't help but imagine what Jesus was feeling - what his followers were feeling - and how much farther they each had to journey.  Both literally and figuratively.  At this point, Jesus had been transfigured on the mountain.  His disciples were pretty sure of who he was, and he had already attracted great crowds to his teaching.  He had also predicted his death twice to those closest to him, but the reality of these predictions escaped them.

It amazes me - the patience that Jesus demonstrates.  The love.  Even when he knew what was to come. even when every fiber of his being was crying for the rest and respite the village could offer.  Even when he and his followers were turned away.   The Sons of Thunder, James and John, demanded punishment for the Samaritan village; Jesus reminded them, rebuked them - retribution was not the way to peace.

How many times have we been at a crossroad, have we seen what we thought was a perfect solution, a perfect ending, a perfect relationship, only to be unexpectedly turned away at the last minute - refused what seemed a sure thing - an earned reward - a deserved rest?  How many times have we wanted to lash out in frustration or anger at this thing that we felt was taken away?  Jesus knew what Jerusalem held for him.  How many times have we allowed ourselves to lose focus, allowed ourselves to be led away from our purpose?  

I am amazed at Jesus - fully human - tired and travel-worn, knowing the difficulty - the impossibility of what he would have to endure - just wanting a little respite from the road.  I am amazed because I believe he understood and felt everything, all the emotions, all the turmoil, all the resentment surrounding him.  I am amazed because I believe he chose this turning point - literally.  He not only talks peace, but in the moment - in all the difficulty he was facing - he showed the way to peace.

They went to another village.

Sometimes, we just have to let go and find the other way.  The way to peace.

Heavenly Father, 
Thank you for giving us the Way, your son, 
who taught and showed, suffered, and died to redeem us to you.  
I want, I yearn for peace - but I realize that there are so many things I have to let go of - 
that we have to let go of in order to live and be in peace.  
Help me, help us all,  to choose the right road.  
Even when the sun seems to shine a little brighter on a different choice - 
help us to follow Jesus. 

Linking with friends at #TellHisStory, ThreeWordWednesday, Imperfect Prose, Unite, Soli Deo Gloria


  1. I am your neighbor over at Tell His Story. You captured this moment beautifully and it has set me to thinking about how the dust filled, rejection filled roads that we travel on before we get to "our promise land". The paths of can be long and the road ahead frightening, but in order to move into promise we need to endure and keep going. If we stop and let anger and bitterness take over we will never fulfill our purpose and step into promise.

    1. Hi Karmen, thanks for coming by. Yes, I am fascinated by the journey - I guess it started when I finally figured out that the Valley of the Shadow of Death in the 23rd psalm was not written to be avoided, but written to demonstrate that God will never abandon us - Yea, THOUGH I walk ... not Yea, IF or WHEN I walk... There is joy on the road, too! One of my hopes is that we see through the bumps, the dust, and the rejection, and find the joy. I hope your Easter week is wonderful.

  2. this was beautiful
    beautiful story
    beautiful sacrifice
    beautiful Savior

  3. I have been reflecting on Matthew 26 and 27 this week, preparing my heart for Easter. And I have been overwhelmed by the amount of grace Jesus shows His disciples even in the midst of coming death. This is a beautiful passage and I loved how you caught me up in the story and showed me more of my Savior. So glad you linked this with SDG.

    1. Hi Jen - Thank you - yes, overwhelmed by his grace, no matter the circumstances. That Savior guy, he gets to me, too... Peace.


I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.