Jesus did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them
Luke 9:51-10:12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; 52 and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. 54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went on to another village.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” 61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
10 Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. 2 And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. 8 Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.
Today’s text is another great example of the need to know and understand the entirety of scripture as opposed to taking small portions of scripture out of context, when determining what God says, what He expects of us and what He would or would not do. The text begins with an account of a Samaritan village that did not receive Jesus. The text says: When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went on to another village. Many people, stopping here in today’s text, will come to believe that there is no judgment for those who reject Jesus. After all, Jesus Himself says He did not come to destroy lives but to save them. Indeed Jesus does not condemn those who reject Him. Even on the cross, Jesus did not condemn those who mocked and insulted Him. Instead His response was to say: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) John 3:16-17 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
Just because Jesus does not condemn or judge does not mean that there is no judgment. In John 3:18-19 Jesus says: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” So the judgment is not from Christ, but it is concerning Him. It is based on believing or not believing in Jesus. It is based on the choice of light or darkness. That which is light or darkness is not determined arbitrarily by man, but rather by God, as He has determined. Look also at what Jesus says to the 70 disciples He sends out to minister. “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you;” So while the disciples were not to condemn or judge, neither were they to disregard the rejection of the kingdom of God. They were to clearly stand against those who did not receive them and their message. For us too, disciples of Christ today, it is not our job to judge or condemn people. We are to carry the light, the message and the love of God and His kingdom, with the power of the Holy Spirit. We should not though stand with those who reject Jesus. Our love for them should be not as the world defines love, accepting, tolerating and condoning their sin. But rather out love for the world should be as God’s love for us. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Because of God’s love, He gave us Jesus to free us from sin. If we will love the world, then we must take the kingdom of God to them. We must not stand with sin, but rather, in love stand against it. The world perceives our lack of dissent with their actions as agreement. Our stand with Christ must be clear. Our demonstration of God’s love should point them to the cross of Christ, the demonstration of His love for us and them.
In today’s text Jesus says of those who do not receive the message of the kingdom of God: “be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.” Sodom was a city that rejected the message of God. It was a city which chose darkness over light. The inhabitants of Sodom loved darkness, because their deeds were evil. Genesis 19:24-25, tells us of the judgment against Sodom: Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. Jesus did not judge Sodom. But Sodom was judged. Jesus does not judge or condemn sinners today, He came to save them. Still, according to His word, they are: judged already, because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. If we truly love the world, we will do everything we can to help them to avoid the judgment Jesus says has already been made against evil and darkness. It is not our job to judge or condemn the world. Our job is to take a stand for God and His kingdom. We cannot stand with God and sin. We must shake sin off of our feet. Our job is to demonstrate the love of God and Christ to the world. Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for the demonstration of Your love, in the cross of Christ. Thank You Lord God for not giving us the responsibility of judging or condemning sinners. We have only the responsibility to take a stand for Your kingdom and to declare the good news of the kingdom to all who will receive. Help me, Holy Spirit, to live as a light in the darkness, that others may see and glorify God in heaven. Help me to live as a demonstration of God’s love, that others too, will be drawn to the cross. Amen.