Read Luke 9:51-62
As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. So they went on to another village. (Luke 9:51-56 NLT)
We LOVE the Olympics in our house! When the Olympics are on, we start paying attention to things that we don’t at any other time. All of a sudden we are transformed into enormous diving, swimming, table tennis, equestrian, gymnastics fans. It doesn’t matter what the sport is… it’s the Olympics! One of the thoughts that always pops into my head when I’m watching some of these sports is, “How did they ever find the confidence to do that, and do it well?” Take platform diving, for example. These men and women perch themselves high above the water and then plunge twisting and turning and flipping into the water… making the tiniest splash. How did they ever find the nerve to try that the first time? Or, better still, how did they find the nerve to try it a second time? Because you know they slammed hard on the water the first time? How did they develop the confidence to do what they do, and do it well? There are certainly protective measures they took in the early going that made it less painful, but eventually they had to take the plunge and risk the pain.
Repetition, experience and success breeds confidence. There is no way for a diver to become confident without the repetition of practice with some success along the way.
In this text I love the confidence of James and John. At the beginning of this chapter in Luke, Jesus sends the disciples out for the first time to do what they have seen him doing. He sends them out two-by-two to proclaim the Kingdom of God, to call people to repentance, heal the sick and cast out demons. I’m sure they had their doubts going out for the first time, but they went anyway. They took the plunge, knowing there might be some pain, but they pressed through and came back with a whole new kind of confidence. This stuff that Jesus had been teaching them actually works! People were healed! Demons were cast out, and people became followers of Jesus. Amazing! So now, James and John are bold. They are confident in what they can do in God’s power. The people in this Samaritan village didn’t welcome them so, “When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” (Luke 9:54 NLT)” Their idea to, “call down fire from heaven and burn them up” is certainly misguided (Jesus had already taught them, “And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” — Luke 9:5) and Jesus rebukes them appropriately, but you have to applaud their faith. They were certain that if Jesus wanted them to call down fire from heaven that they could. I long for that kind of faith.
What stands in the way of people like you and me having this kind of confidence? For me it often comes down to this: I am not yet trusting God in the simple things. How could I could I possibly trust God to do the mighty and miraculous in and through me when I don’t yet trust him with the small and simple?
Jesus, teach me to trust you in all things today. Help me to grow in confidence if what you can do in and through my life.