“When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village.” (Reference: Luke 9:54-56 )
The editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible say that throughout the historic Anabaptist writings there is a caution against personal vengeance. And I suppose that is true – throughout all the fiery writings that the historic Anabaptists writings it was God they called on and God they said would “smite” those that came against them. I don’t remember them saying/writing that they would personally do the smiting.
Paul Glock wrote to his wife Else, “The Lord explained it saying if they lie about you, let your friendliness, which is a fruit of the spirit, be manifest towards all and do not reward evil with evil. For we are God’s children born through the Gospel and our heavenly Father lets his sun shine on the devout and on the godless and has never turned his mercy from them. He has at all times shown himself to be fatherly, according to his name, by giving them rain from heaven and fruitful times and has filled their hearts with joy although humanly a person might sometimes think, like John and James: “Lord, shall we ask that fire come down from heaven and devour them?” [Luke 9:54]. But Christ, who had come to save souls and not to destroy, said to them: “You do not know which spirit’s children you are.” With that he plainly gave us to understand that we are not to avenge ourselves but to learn gentleness and humility from the Master.”
My NRSV tells me that “other ancient authorities” added the comments about the disciples not knowing “which spirit’s children you are”, and I am intrigued by that footnote. Does it simply mean they did not know what they were talking about – that is, not think through what they were saying. Or does it mean that vengeance like that comes from evil spirits? Because these “other ancient authorities” are not available to elaborate, we cannot be sure. Barnes does talk about these extra part and suggests that Jesus is trying to explain to them that they may think their zeal is from love for Jesus – that is protecting and defending Jesus good name. But actually it is the disciples own opinion and attitude that is “firing” them up and it is not right or part of Jesus’/God’s plan for humanity. So beloved, shall we examine our own hearts and spirits for unGodly zeal for vengeance? I think Paul Glock would be a good instructor for this.
May you learn gentleness from our Lord, and patience with those who seem opposed to you. May your love for humanity squelch out any thoughts or inclinations for vengeance. Selah!