Would You ‘Command Fire to Come Down’?

Posted on February 16, 2021


By David Ettinger

The Background
As Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem, they passed through Samaria. Jesus wanted to minister in a particular Samaritan village, “But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:53).

In response to this snub, we read that, “When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’” (v. 54).

Interestingly, Jesus’ reaction to the Samaritans is not recorded, but His response to His disciples is: “But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them’” (vv. 55-56).

This is a sad commentary on James and John. Basically, their reaction to Jesus being rejected was to slaughter an entire village. Such a reaction is harsh, extreme, and hateful. Instead, the two brothers should have seen the Samaritans from Jesus’ point of view – as lost souls who needed salvation – and prayed for them.

Christian Fire-Breathers
Tragically, this account from almost 2,000 years ago speaks accurately to believers today. I am stunned when I “visit” the social media pages of Christians and see it filled with political content bashing the “other side.”

Whether providing their own material or reposting from another source, the venom being disgorged from the minds of believers is heinous. Much of the vitriol, of course, is directed at liberals, ex-President Trump-haters, and those who oppose what he stood for. The hateful passion directed at those on the “other side” is so intense I am convinced that if these believers could command fire to come down on them, they would do just that.

Interestingly, in my 60-plus times of reading through the Bible in the past 34 years, I’ve never read where God, or Jesus during His earthly ministry, ever commanded believers to argue politics, disdain those with different political views, or try to change the mind of those on the “other side.”

What Jesus does tell us is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), be His witnesses (Acts 1:8), “tell how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:39), and to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Wasted Opportunities
Social media provides us with a wonderful opportunity to do these things, but far too many Christians would rather command fire to come down on those who disagree with them rather than telling them about the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What in the world does winning political “converts” matter if they are not saved? Great, so you have shown them the error of their way and they are now on “our side” … and their souls are just as black as they have ever been.

I understand that commanding fire to come down on those who oppose us is an easier way to go in that it satisfies our baser natures, but this hardly fulfills our mandate to “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:3). I’d much rather be doing this than telling people who to vote for.

Also, I take seriously Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Besides, obeying this particular command helps calm the nerves and soothe the soul, not to mention that it’s what Jesus wants us to do.

To Christians who fill their social media pages with political content while eschewing opportunities to share the Gospel, is this really what you should be doing? Do you really think it’s right to “command fire to come down” on the other side?

I hope not. As for me, I’d rather save men’s lives than destroy them. Can we agree on this?