The Son of Man Did Not Come to Destroy Men’s Lives, but to Save Them

When the days were approaching for His [Jesus’] ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. 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?” 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.”]And they went on to another village. – Luke 9:51-56 NASB

I find it interesting that of most modern English translations of Scripture, only the NASB, a very literal translation (word for word) of the text includes this bracketed portion of the details of Jesus’ rebuke. In the events recorded by Luke,; James and John who Jesus gave the nickname “Boanerges” or “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17) recalling what Elijah did in 1 Kings 18 and 2 Kings 1, wanted Jesus to give them permission to “command fire to come down from heaven” to consume Samaritans who did not receive Jesus (vv. 53-54).   

What’s amazing is what Jesus tells them in His rebuke of their request. He says in v. 55, “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.” Jesus here seems to be telling them that they are not thinking or wanting to act like God with mercy and love. He tells them that He hasn’t come to destroy lives, but to save. So could the power Elijah used to not only call down fire from above on several occasions to destroy people, but also to slaughter many more not be from God?

Remember in Job 1, God gives all that Job has, over to the power of Satan. In Job 1:16 one of Job’s servants says to him, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them.” Was this fire from God? No, it was from Satan.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive study of this topic, just something I noticed and want to share for consideration as I myself continue to evaluate the character of God revealed in Jesus Christ, with things in the Bible from the Old Testament that seem to contradict His character. I believe it’s possible for God to have given us a collection of writings that reveal the misunderstandings and ignorance of man along side the beautiful snap shots of Jesus in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures) and the actual revelation of Jesus in the New Testament.

May God help us to see Him and rejoice and hope in Him as we look intensely at the true character of God revealed in Jesus Christ. God is love (1 John 4:7ff) and He says He will reconcile all things to Himself both on heaven and on earth (Colossians 1:20), and because He is the God of hope, He promises to fill us with peace and joy as we abound in all hope (Romans 15:13).

Grace, Peace and Love in Christ Jesus!