Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 12, 2010

Luke 9: A Samaritan town rejects Jesus

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on December 12, 2010

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 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.

Gospel of Luke
Chapter 9

It is now late in the ministry of Jesus. He is setting out to Jerusalem and his death.

Perhaps this Samaritan village had received him previously. Perhaps there were people there who had accepted Jesus as Messiah. But whatever the case, this time they did not welcome him.

Many New Testament commentators, with no more evidence than we have available here, speculate the Samaritans resented that Jesus would still go to the Mt. Zion Temple for Passover when the Jerusalem priests and Pharisees had mostly rejected him. Why not remain in Samaria and worship with us on Mt. Gerizim?

There is a nuance to the original Greek that we may not hear. An especially literal translation suggests something going on that sounds awkward in English: “And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.”

It is as easy to speculate the Samaritans did not want to help Jesus head toward Jerusalem because they were concerned for his safety.

Whatever the Samaritans motivation, the reaction of James and John is as prideful and angry as usual. And once again, they are rebuked by Jesus. Jesus and his disciples move on to another village, almost certainly another Samaritan village.

The differences between Samaritan and Jew persist. We have seen Jesus does not allow these differences to obscure the faithfulness of Samaritans, but neither does he deny the difference. In rebuking James and John, we certainly hear Jesus calling for a toleration of difference and rejection of violence.

Some translations (above is the New International Version) include details on the rebuke of James and John. The King James Bible adds to the end of verse 55 and beginning of verse 56, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives. But to save them.”

The intolerance of his disciples – loyal and loving to Jesus though they may be – exposes the corrupt spirit that still abides in them. Jesus does not destroy. Jesus creates, most dramatically through the sacrament of self-sacrifice.

In any case, violence and anger aimed at the Samaritans was quickly rebuked by Jesus.

–+–

This is the fifth post in a weekend series that will conclude on December 24.  The purpose is to examine possible principles for inter-religious relations emerging from six scriptural texts.

The first post on December 3 was Tis the season… to deal directly with religious difference.

The second post on December 4 was Avoid Samaritan Towns.

The third post on December 5 was The Woman at Jacob’s Well.

The fourth post on December 11 was Jesus accused of being a Samaritan.

The series will resume on December 18.

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6 Comments »

Comment by S. Francis Thorn

December 13, 2010 @ 12:11 am

Mr. Palin,

I appreciate your willingness to create a conversation regarding religious dialogue.

That said, I don’t find “I AM” to be as tolerant as you suggest.

Is there a possibility you may be confusing choice with tolerance?

The Son was not sent to make people get closer to The Father per se, as much as it was providing The Father the opportunity to love all His children.

There are bountiful references within the New Testament where there is a distinction between the righteous and the wicked.

In Christianity, seeking forgiveness for sin through confession is an individual choice. In effect, for the individual to recognize their sin, confess, and seek repentance (i.e. correct behavior) is a universal process that allows The Father to love all His children.

This suggests that “I AM” tolerates our humanness – not our sin.

The Father tolerates human choice (and He wants us to make good choices!). Whether or not He loves us – is essentially – up to us.

In regards to inter-religious dialogue, if Christianity provides human choice and Islam requires human submission, where do you see opportunity for dialogue?

Moreover, I don’t fancy Dhimmi all that much…

Comment by Philip J. Palin

December 13, 2010 @ 4:55 am

Mr. Thorn, I recognize and value the principles you have articulated. In your reading of the Samaritan texts where do you find these principles affirmed or challenged?

Comment by Islam Misunderstood and Manipulated

December 13, 2010 @ 8:42 am

Traditional Muslim practice differs from the practice of most Muslims in the world who look to uphold the Quran and God which promotes – in clarity – the fact that all human beings stand in front of God, yes, even we the “infidel” – not the – small segment – of the ever growing Muslim population which now reaches to 1.5 billion fellow human beings who differ greatly from those who have manipulated Islam with man-made books, self agenda and the “submission” so often referred to….Islam is quite clear in its teachings holding God to the highest.

As a very proud American of my beloved American Republic for which it stands and of my Hellenic genetics in background, while these depicable acts against Christians and even Muslims themeselves continue by the self-serving few and while even my culture and tradition may be different to another, unlike traditional Islam, those professing the teachings of the Bible, the Quran and other understand that all men and women stand before God and will be judged, however no other human or other like the “Brutes of Tehran” has the right to judge, to have a woman stoned to death or to willingly spill rich Persian blood on the streets of Tehran, a Persian culture that has given so much to humanity as well. A Persian people proud of their ancestors and today are so well educated and disgusted themselves of these power mongers in Tehran preaching ill ways towards not only Hebrew brethren, but others in the region.

The “Brutes of Tehran” and their dastardly deeds towards others…these evil doers and you in the global community turn your cheek to their intent on having nuclear bombs in its arsenal. How dare you allow such peril to humanity to become reality? If it were not for the United States and its allies, the world would be far different these nearly seventy years later when submission was the SS way.

As an American born very much following my Greek Orthodox traditions, I understand we all have our heritage and our differences and while Biblical verse is foremost for me, those with Quran in hand and who do not manipulate its intent, well maybe some day these “fundamentalists” will fade away as indiputeably, the Quran teaches tolerance of others, Love and passion to be conveyed towards all, not this cold blooded killing and submission which is referred to as this is not the well meaning teachings of the Quran nor followed by the great majority who are peaceful and compassionate fellow himan berings.

We cannot allow these very few Muslims to promote such misunderstanding of the Quran and those whose choice is to follow Islam as I in my Greek Orthodox faith.

God Bless all and God Bless America for it continues to be the beacon of hope to the oppressed, the despair and a world so riddled with so much corruption. All before the eyes of the Lord.

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Comment by Philip J. Palin

December 13, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

Mr. Thorn:

In regard to the issue of choice versus submission: It seems to me that within Christianity there is also considerable weight given to making the righteous choice and submitting ourselves to God.

The Catholic catechism includes, “God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God.”

In my own reading, the Qu’ran recognizes that submission to God is a choice. For example, in verse 104 of Al-An’am it states, “The Signs (of guidance) have indeed come to you from your Lord. So he who perceives (them by his insight) brings (benefit) to his own self, and he who remains blind (also) brings loss upon his own self. And I am not a guardian over you.”

So… I do see an opportunity for dialogue. I apologize for this delayed response. I was running to catch a plane when I responded too quickly this morning.

Comment by S. Francis Thorn

December 14, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

Mr. Palin,

Thank you for allowing me to clarify how I’m interpreting your use of scripture.

I apologize for my tardy response…

It seems you deliberately select this passage so you can emphasize that Jesus rebukes his disciples who want to destroy those who don’t follow. Which of course, Jesus is absolutely right.

By destroying the Samaritans on the basis of being annoyingly stubborn would remove their freedom to choose.

Although I agree with your interpretation of Luke, I do not see how it can be extrapolated to current homeland security concerns.

In the context of homeland security, if only the enemy suffered from a mere hardness of the heart…

Although you don’t come right out and say this, you appear to waltz the reader in such an empathetic manner that one might easily substitute the Samaritan with – let’s say Islam – and substitute Jesus with – let’s say oneself…and ipso facto, the reader now has a readymade and affective framework for inter-religious dialogue.

…Please correct me if I misinterpret the point you are trying to make.

That said, this brings me back to my earlier comments regarding your selection and interpretation of scripture; Christianity tolerates human choice and Islam requires human submission.

This distinction is disturbingly obvious as we observe what is currently being done to the Christians in Iraq. If interested, the NY Times recently published the article titled “More Christians Flee Iraq After New Violence” highlighting the tolerance that is being extended to a minority faith in a predominantly Muslim country.

After reading the article, would you propose Luke 9 to the Iraqi Christians?

Although I can select many colorful Sura’s to prove a point, I’m more interested in deeds.

As a mental exercise, which environment would you consider more tolerant and open to inter-religious exchange?

Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri reading “verse 104 of Al-An’am” in Rome?

Or any Christian Scholar reading Luke 9 in Mecca?

When Israel, for instance, has an Embassy in Riyadh – that would demonstrate tolerance for meaningful inter-religious dialogue and potentially increase the likelihood of peaceful relations that are sustainable.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

December 15, 2010 @ 7:49 am

Mr. Thorn:

The verses excerpted from Luke 9 are one of six references to Samaritans in the New Testament. I am about mid-way through publishing posts on each.

I initially undertook this reading and study as a personal spiritual exercise. I was motivated to find out what Jesus might say about Christian-Muslim relationships. You have correctly discerned my initial stance. In consulting with others and reviewing the New Testament I chose the Samaritan sayings as the most promising source of meaningful spiritual/ethical analogy. It is my regular practice to read scripture for analogies to contemporary issues, both personal and beyond.

Other than the parable of the Good Samaritan I did not have a prior conception of what the readings might offer.

I am sure I bring to the reading biases. That said, it has been my intention and effort to read the passages on their own terms. To this end I combined the scripture reading with some (modest) historical research and a bit of struggle with the original Greek of each reading.

As a self-identified Christian involved in homeland security this sort of scriptural study is meaningful to me. There may be no further relevance. A big part of my motivation for moving these personal “meditations” to HLSWatch was to explore the relevance or non-relevance beyond the strictly personal. Posting on the weekends was meant to launch this — potentially provocative — exploration in a way that acknowledges this may not be a helpful context for doing so.

I am interested in what the Samaritan sayings — and other spiritual/ethical guidance — may offer in regard to the important questions you have raised. In many ways it is precisely to better enable us (or at least me) to deal with these issues that I have undertaken the study. But I still have two more sayings to engage before I am ready to draw my own lessons. And as you note, even if I reach a clear conclusion, it will still be my choice what I do — or don’t do — with the conclusions.

In some ways you might say I am attempting to understand my own sinfulness or righteousness before I throw the first stone. This is not to deny the problems of the other. But before I go there, I still have some work to do.

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