Luke 9:51-56 – But To Save Them

Luke 9:51-56
51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 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?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

-Elijah was arguably the most powerful prophet in the Old Testament; his exploits include casually parting bodies of water, facing down hundreds of heathen priests at once, and even ascending to Heaven by way of a flaming chariot. The instance referenced here by John and James, however, illustrates Elijah’s limitation. When Ahaziah, king of Samaria sent forth bands of soldiers to bring Elijah, he responded by calling God’s fire down from Heaven to consume them (2 Kings 1). It wasn’t that Elijah was cruel, but because he operated under the law, he could only bring forth God’s judgment and destruction when faced with the sinful and unrepentant. But behold, a greater than Elijah is here! In the Gospels, we are introduced to One who is not only a Prophet but also the fulfillment of all prophecy. He is of purer eyes than to even behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13), but because of the Blood which He alone shed (Hebrews 9:12), Jesus Christ is able and willing to look on sin and offer mercy.

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