“But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.”
Jesus was visiting a village of the Samaritans on His way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans and Jews had no dealings with each other. When the Samaritans knew that Jesus was going to Jerusalem, they would not receive Him. When the disciples James and John saw the way that Jesus was rejected, they wanted to retaliate. They asked Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” (54) They took offense at the behavior of the Samaritans and were more than ready to execute them for their treatment of Jesus. However, instead of complying with the request of the disciples, Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” Jesus was more concerned about the harsh and critical attitude of James and John than He was with the poor reception by the Samaritans.
More than a few times, we have seen glimpses of ourselves in the attitudes and behavior of the disciples. James and John were as close to the Lord as any disciples could be. They loved Him and wanted others to love Him also. When He was mistreated, they took it personally. Their response to the Samaritans’ rejection of Jesus was an expression of their loyalty to Him. They wanted to stand up for Him and had no regard for those who did not share their commitment. Although their allegiance to Christ was admirable, their spirit was less commendable. We can find ourselves in that same state, having a strong appreciation for the Savior and the cause that He has entrusted to us, and a bad attitude toward those who do not agree with our sentiment.
It is important that we keep a right spirit, as well as a strong position. It has been said that there are those with the right position who have a wrong disposition. This is true. There will always be those who do not agree with our stand or support our position. That does not mean they are unworthy of living. We will have people, even fellow Christians, who mistreat us. Some will criticize us and attack those we respect and love. It is hard to see our family and friends rejected. However, that is no excuse to attack in retaliation. Jesus is interested in our keeping a right spirit. However we are received, we ought to forgive others and treat them with kindness.