Luke 9:51-56: A Lack of Mercy
There is a great struggle in every Christian’s heart, and that is the balance between mercy and justice. Both are commands, we are to be just and we are to be merciful. Both are used by our sinfulness to further our sins. Sometimes we insist on justice because we are nurturing hatred in our hearts and want to see harm come to those who have hurt us or ours. Sometimes we insist on mercy because we have cowardice in our hearts and are unwilling to pay the price to apply what is right in a particular situation. At times it seems that one cannot be true to both but you have to choose, yet God is both merciful and just. We especially struggle to balance these things when we are being unjustly persecuted or treated. When we are in the right our self-righteousness rises up with mighty vengeance and powerfully wields the sword of justice. Because our sinfulness is an expert in seeing others sins and measuring our losses rather than another’s hurts and needs we are more proficient at judging than having mercy. When God deals with sinners His mercy triumphs over judgement, but when we deal with sinners justice triumphs over mercy. This is the problem that we are seeing in Luke 9:51-56 when the disciples want to call down fire upon the Samaritans who have rejected Christ.
We are in a section dealing with the immaturity of the disciples. We have seen their lack of faith and understanding, their lack of humility, this section deals with their lack of mercy and how out of step they are with the mission of Christ. So as we look at this section we will look at it under three headings, we will look firstly at the Saviour’s loving determination; then the Samaritan’s racial rejection; and thirdly, the disciple’s misguided zeal.