Even close followers of Jesus can get it wrong.

John was one of the three close followers of Jesus who witnessed the Transfiguration. While there, he heard the Father speak from heaven, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Luke 9.35)

If I had been in John’s place, I don’t know how that experience would have changed my life. Luke recorded what John did in response to another servant of Jesus, and revealed how much further he had to go to live a Jesus-kind-of-life.

— Luke 9.49-50John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.”

But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

The disciples had recently failed to deliver a little boy from a demon (Luke 9.37-43).

They saw someone who was not one of the twelve disciples doing the same thing they were authorized to do on their mission in Galilee (Luke 9.1-6).

He was successful, where they had failed a short time earlier. Joel Green states the problem of the disciples in one sentence.

In his commentary on Luke he writes: “Jesus had implored the disciples to honor those of no status at all, but they have refused partnership with one who did not share the status they assumed for themselves.”

Learning from Chickens

Chickens are social creatures who establish an order that determines which ones eat and drink first. The chicken at the top of the order is the healthiest and strongest.

The “top chicken” gets to eat first, but is also responsible for protecting the brood of chickens.

Whether John believed that he was a “top chicken” among followers of Jesus is not for us to know.

The most important question is whether we assume that role for ourselves and what are the results if we act toward other believers like this.

The unity of the church is a major priority of God.

Paul wrote, “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4.1-3).

Humility, gentleness, patience, and love is essential to maintain unity. Living like a “top chicken” will not.

I had the privilege of leading the Citywide Prayer Movement for several years. In that role I came in contact with different expressions of the church: Evangelical, Liberal Protestant, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Catholic, and Orthodox.

Some of their practices were strange to a Baptist, but there was never a time when I doubted that they were servants of the King. We belong to a big family and we definitely need each other.

Another Blunder

When the Holy Spirit works through someone, we call it spiritual power. Spiritual power must be tempered by humility and submission to the direction of the Lord.

Jesus always followed the Father’s direction and depended on the Holy Spirit to accomplish deeds of power.

Jesus based everything he did on this principle: “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5.19).

Unfortunately, Jesus’ close followers had to learn the lesson of submission the hard way.

— Luke 9.51-56 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him;

But they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

Just as John the Baptist prepared the public ministry of Jesus, the disciples were to prepare the way for Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.

James and John had recently witnessed Elijah talking to Jesus at the Transfiguration.

Elijah had called down fire to consume representatives of Ahaziah, king of Samaria, for his failure to acknowledge the God of Israel (2 Kings 1.1-16).

Possibly, James and John thought they should exercise spiritual power in the same manner as Elijah toward the inhospitable Samaritan village.

As we travel with Jesus to Jerusalem, his role as Savior of the world will unfold page after page.

In addition, the inclusion of outcasts, women, children, and Samaritans as his followers will be highlighted.

No doubt, the destruction of a village was contrary to Jesus’ agenda. Therefore, he rebuked the intent of two men from his inner circle.

Receiving Correction

One of the many reasons why I love the Gospels is that they portray the heroes of the early church with transparent honesty.

These men had unparalleled access to Jesus. Their daily experience was that of the visible presence of God in the flesh.

However, they frequently had wrong motives, attitudes and actions.

The fact that Jesus corrected them and they were willing to be re-directed is a model for us.

Here are some thoughts about receiving correction.

(1) Praise God for his patience with us.

(2) Let’s always be open to receiving correction from the Lord.

(3) Let’s strive to live a Jesus-kind-of-life, where we are in touch with the direction and power of the Holy Spirit.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have enjoyed talking with each other about the Bible for over 20 years. We talk about passages from Luke on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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