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Excerpt taken from:
“The Disciples and the Samaritans”
The Four Gospels Podcast by Hank Smith
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First, in order to understand Luke 9 & 10, we really need to understand the Samaritans. We can just use the Bible dictionary for this. The title of “Samaritans” is used to describe the people who inhabited Samaria after the captivity of the northern Kingdom of Israel. If you take a look at [this map], you can see Jerusalem down here, right? You can see Galilee up here. So this is where Nazareth is. You see that right there? There’s Nazareth.
If Joseph and Mary are gonna take the trip down to Jerusalem, they’ve either got to go 60 miles through Samaria, and do a little u-turn there or they’re gonna cross the Jordan River and come all the way down, cross it back and go into Jerusalem that way because they don’t wanna step foot into Samaria. That would be an extra 30 miles or whatever they have to go.
So, you can see where Samaria is. It’s right between these two areas. Jews live up here and Jews live down here, and Samaritans live between. This kind of an interesting interesting cultural issue here that you’ve got your rival basically living between your two major areas. Now how did this happen? How did they end up there?
Maybe you already know because we’ve talked about it, but let’s go over it again. What happened in 722 or 721 BC? Did you get it right? The Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrian army and taken captive and either many were killed or many fled or many became Assyrians. Some ended up staying and, you know, in the area and kind of living around the Assyrian people.
And then what happened in 587 or 586 BC. About 130 years later, just after Lehi left, the Babylonians took over the southern kingdom of Judah. Now when there’s all these foreigners now living in this entire area, this area up here would be the northern kingdom of Israel and this would be the southern kingdom of Judah, this area down here.
So you’ve got Assyrians and Babylonians still living here through the years, right? Through the decades, they have children who have grandchildren who have grandchildren and some of the Jews, then intermix.
Well, what happens in round 532-533 BC? When Cyrus allows the Jews to rebuild their temple, The title “Jews” is used to describe the people who inhabited Samaria after the captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel. Got it. They were the descendants of foreign colonists placed there by the kings of Assyria and Babylonian Israelites who escaped at the time of the captivity. The population was therefore partly Israelite and partly Gentile; half Jew, half Gentile.
Their religion was also of a mixed character, though they claimed, as worshipers of Jehovah, to have a share in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. So when Cyrus allows them to return to rebuild the temple, which is in Jerusalem, they are not allowed by Jews who think that they are kind of, half bloods. They leave, they become bitter opponents of the Jews and start a rival temple up here in their own Mount Gerizim. They start to claim that they are the true religion, that they are the real Jews, and that all of Jewish history took place here in Samaria. They claim that Abraham didn’t sacrifice Isaac here on Mount Moriah; he sacrificed him in their territory. (Well, he never sacrificed him, but you know what I mean…They claim it happened in Mount Gerizim). They basically stole the religion and took it to the north.
When ejected from Jerusalem, a grandson of the high priest Eliashib, on account of his marriage with a heathen woman (that’s a Gentile), took refuge with the Samaritans, taking with him a copy of the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch. According to Josephus, he became high priest.
So now they have a high priest up here and there’s a high priest down here. There are several references in the New Testament to the antagonism between the Jews and the Samaritans. The people of Samaria were included among those to whom the apostles were directed to preach the gospel later in the Book of Acts.
But remember in Matthew 10, they’re told not to teach Jews and do not teach Samaritans.
The Apostles and the Samaritans
Luke 9:51-56 is a great story that nobody ever tells.
The Savior is traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem. Do you think the Savior’s going to go around Samaria, or do you think He’s going to go through Samaria? He’s gonna go through Samaria. Why? Because Jesus loves to make people uncomfortable. So, in Luke 9 it says, “and it came to pass that when the time was come that he should be received up…” (He’s heading to from Galilee right up here. This is where He lives seek is right by the sea of Galley, sea Tiberius, right by the sea of galley. All right? And they’re gonna go down through some area to go to Jerusalem.)
“…And he sent Messengers before his face and they went and entered to a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him.” So He is going to stop in Samaria and stay the night.
Now this is not going to go over very well, you guys; not for either group. There are no Samaritans that are going to be happy to see Him. (Well, I shouldn’t say there’s none. I’m sure there’s some; but there’s not a lot. I doubt there’s going to be a lot of love between these two groups.) So, let’s go to Samaria and let’s stay the night.
“They would not receive Him because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem“, which means they would not receive him because he was a Jew.
“And when his disciples, James and John saw this, when they, they were upset, they said, Lord, should we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did?”
Whoa. Okay. That’s your first option!?! You guys, this is James and John from Peter, James and John. This is what we would call their First Presidency. So this is like President Oaks and President Eyring who turn to Jesus and they don’t say, “Should we teach them? Should we serve them? Should we feed them?” Remember, this is toward the ends of Christ’s life so, they’ve been with him a long time. They say, “No, Lord, let’s not feed them, serve them, or help them. Let’s nuke them. Right? Let’s blow ’em up.”
Now, they wanted to kill these people! But He turned and He rebuked them. And He does get mad, but he doesn’t get mad at the Samaritans. He gets mad at them. “You know not what men or spirit you are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives.” I didn’t come here to kill people. I came to save them.
And then they went to another village.
The Lesson We Learn
This can be kind of a funny story, right? I hope you laughed at my dumb jokes. But let’s be honest, this is pretty bad: they wanna kill people based on their race.
Now let me ask you a question: Should James and John be apostles? Should he kick them out of the twelve? Should He say, “You know what? I was wrong about you guys. You should know better than about this by now.”
Are you answering those questions? That’s what I’m hope you’re doing right now. I hope you’re not just staring at me. But I hope you’re answering these questions: Should James and John still be apostles seeing that they have these really big prejudices? Should he keep them around?
Now, if someone were to ask me these questions, I think I might say something like, “It is not my place to judge these men because they’re not apostles of Brother Smith; they are apostles of Jesus Christ. And if you’re an apostle of Jesus Christ, I’m assuming the only person who gets to judge your apostleship is Jesus Christ.”
Second, I don’t think when the Lord calls it an apostle or a prophet or any other leader, he unmakes them a human being. They still have to deal with the culture they grew up in and the teachings of their parents. I think the Lord can use imperfect tools.
Now, I’m not overly concerned with Peter, James, and John as much as I am with own history. If you look in the history of the church, you might see statements from people that you don’t agree with. Like, maybe that was a wrong thing to say. And maybe you could come back to this story in your mind saying, “Well, it’s not my job to judge their apostleship; they’re not my apostles.” And then let’s learn in our own lives to look at our own selves and go: how can I be too quick to judge or too quick to want to hurt someone?
We can be really quick to condemn, right? How many of you have ever been too quick to judge a sibling? You’re like, “Lord, get ’em.” And maybe the the Lord would say, “I didn’t come here to condemn your siblings. I didn’t send you to condemn your siblings. I sent you to help save them.”
And then there’s that phrase, “they went to another village.” That doesn’t mean you’re gonna go to a new family. I just mean that sometimes I picture James and John going:
“Oh, we’re just gonna go somewhere else?”
“You don’t wanna blow ’em up?”
“Okay. How about we just go somewhere else?”
Sometimes it’s easier to let it roll off you a little bit.
Some battles just aren’t worth fighting.
I know this is maybe a dumb application, but when I’m driving and someone does something to upset me, cuts me off or something, I try to remember the Savior saying:
“It’s fine. Let’s just let them go. How about that? How about we just not worry about it? Alright? I didn’t come here to destroy people. I came to save them so let’s just go to another village and not worry too much about it.”
Excerpt taken from: “The Disciples and the Samaritans”
The Four Gospels by Hank Smith
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Watch or listen to the full episode here: The Disciples and the Samaritans by Hank Smith.
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