Dealing With The Dead
ne of the more interesting passages seen in the Gospels is where the disciples of Jesus went to Samaria to prepare the way for a visit, and they were poorly received. In that illustrative incident, the two disciples, James and John, were indignant at the village which refused the LORD:
"And they did not receive him...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?" (Luke 9:53,54)
This is a very rare instance in which Christ rebuked His disciples, yet few realize the true dynamic of what occurs:
"But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, 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" (Luke 9:55,56)
To fully appreciate the severity of an actual rebuke from Jesus, we need to look at the surrounding texts, for an important Spiritual principle is involved in this illustrative interaction. Interestingly enough, it is in the chapter which follows this one where Jesus provides specific instructions concerning how the missionary pairs he sends out are to respond to the Spiritual cold shoulder, which occurred in more than one village.
However, first he instructs them how to behave when they arereceived:
"And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it...." Luke 10:5,6)
This phrase, where the text references "the son of peace," simply says that if a person of peace (a "son" of peace) resides in that house, the peace of the LORD will rest upon the house, as it flows through the blessed one who comes in the name of the LORD. However, if the householder is not a peaceful man, God's peace will not cover the home.
This episode is also instructive in that it transmits the idea that the purpose of the disciples traveling to villages, and spending a bit of time with various people, was to provide a lengthier method of explanation concerning the arrival of the Saviour.
This has prophetic ramifications as well, for the disciples who are traveling to bring the people the good news that the Kingdom of God has arrived in Christ, anticipates the work of the 144,000 Christians, who are sealed for the same purpose, towards the time of the very end.
Christ's instructions also included heavenly protocols for rejection, as He stated specifics concerning the house or village which rejects the message the two witnesses bring:
"But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come near unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city" (Luke 10:11,12).
It's important to note that, although Jesus tells the disciples to ritualize their Spiritual dominion with the externalized act of shaking the "dust" off their feet (as a way of witnessing to what has just occurred), earlier the disciples found themselves sharply rebuked for thinking the LORD would have them exact punishment on the village for that same rejection.
What this is saying is that, in the case of rejection of the truth, the believer is to note the Spiritual severity involved in the rejection of the truth of the Kingdom, but there is to be no attempt to exact any sort of retaliatory measure because of that rejection.
This is related to an even deeper level of understanding embedded in the exchange, as the Spiritual nature of this world is probed in the next phrase, which occurs just after Christ corrects his zealous disciples. There, He tells them they are evidently still unaware that they are indwelled by the Spirit of life, not death:
"For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's live, but to save them. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (Luke 9:56, John 10:10).
When you think it through, there would be no reason for the disciples to destroy a village which has rejected the life offered by Christ, because they are already dead. This thought is repeated in the passage which immediately follows, for the very next account speaks of a man whom Christ calls, but the individual in question says that he first needs to go and bury a relative.
"And he said to another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:59.60).
Once again, this puts forth the idea that those who are physically alive, who are able to bury the physically dead, arejust as dead in their sins as those who have died without redemption. To put it another way, it is self evident that dead people cannot bury other dead people, so the statement indicates the fact that virtually everyone is already dead in a Spiritual sense, and the most urgent matter at hand is to bring them the life found in Jesus Christ.
Finally, as stated earlier, in the Gospel account of two witnesses who go forth to present the Gospel, we see James and John, who errantly suggest the punitive miracle of calling fire down from heaven is an appropriate course of action. This is an obvious prophetic anticipation of the two witnesses of Revelation (to say nothing of the 144,000), and a brief video addressing that subject may be viewed online at THE TWO WITNESSES.