53 – Fire From Heaven

When: September, 29 AD
Where: Sabaste, Samaria


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After healing the ten lepers, the Samaritan leper suggested that Jesus stop at his home before he began his journey, and Jesus accepted the invitation. While there, Jesus planned out his mission tour through the region of Samaria.

Beginning with the leper’s village, Jesus sent out the disciple teams through the hill country of Samaria. But for 700 years the Jewish leaders of Judah had looked down with disgust on the “half-breed” Samaritans, and many extremist Samaritans responded in the same way. On Samaritan “turf”, Jesus was just another misguided and unwelcome snob of the “Judean Religious Establishment”. If this Galilean rabbi was going to the Jerusalem temple, then he was NOT welcome in their villages.

Just south of the capitol of Sabaste [today] (once called Samaria [today]) was a village that absolutely refused to allow Jesus even to enter. If someone wanted to speak to him they could leave the village.

James had inherited the “short fuse” of his father Zebedee. He knew the history of the Samaritan’s. ‘Jesus’, James said, ‘you say that you are the Messiah. Do not take this insult. If you are the Messiah, then do what Elijah did. Make an example of this village so that others will listen. Bring down fire and destroy them.’

Seven hundred years earlier the prophet Elijah had been here. King Ahaziah had seriously injured himself in a fall in the city of Samaria. Instead of asking the God of Israel if he would recover, he sent his servants to the Philistine city of Ekron to inquire of Baal. But on a hill just south of Samaria, next to the road to Ekron, sat Elijah. He intercepted the servants and sent them back with the message that the king would die because he had rejected the One True God.

When the king heard the message he sent a captain with fifty soldiers to the hill to arrest Elijah. The haughty captain ignored Elijah’s warnings and tried to arrest him. ‘If I am a prophet of God’, said Elijah, ‘then may fire fall from the sky and consume you.’ And it did! Another 50 were sent. And those 50 were consumed by fire because of their captain. “Jesus, if God sent fire to prove that Elijah was a prophet, then won’t God send it at the request of the Messiah?”

But Jesus, resting on the same hill overlooking the valley, shook his head in disappointment, and sighed. ‘James, don’t talk like Satan’, said Jesus, ‘trying to make me prove that I am the Messiah. You do not understand. I have not come to scare or threaten all of these people into listening. I have come to OFFER salvation to those who seek, hear, see, and WANT to come into the Kingdom. Now, let’s move on.’

As Jesus journeyed through Samaria, some folks along the way did explore what it would mean to be a disciple, but the expectations of Jesus were too high and the hardships were many. Yet Jesus brought the Kingdom close to them as he continued on his way to Sychar [today].

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