Our Lord's Treatment of Erroneous Zeal
Luke 9:51-56
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,…


1. This proposal discovers at least some acquaintance with the writings of the Old Testament, for it refers to an event which happened many centuries before, and which is remarkable in the history of Elijah.

2. It appears that the disciples had some distrust of their own judgment, and were willing to submit to Christ's direction. Their language is, Lord, wilt Thou that we should do this? They would do nothing rashly, nothing but what He approved; and in this they furnish an example worthy of imitation.

3. The language implies strong faith: "Wilt Thou that we command fire from heaven?" The disciples felt persuaded that if the Lord gave authority, the miracle would be performed. They had commanded unclean spirits out of persons, and were obeyed; and why might they not expect the same, if they called for fire from heaven?

4. They had a zeal for God, though not according to knowledge; it was sufficiently fervid, but not well directed. It was promised to the disciples that they should be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire; that they should be endowed with extraordinary gifts and extraordinary zeal, yet not for the purpose of destroying men's lives, but to save them.

5. Their zeal expressed great indignation against sin, and in this it was commendable.

6. It was a zeal which expressed great affection for their Lord and Master. To see Him slighted and insulted, shut out of doors, and denied the common necessities and civilities of life, was more than they could bear; they therefore wished to resent such churlish behaviour.

7. There was, however, too much asperity in their zeal, and a want of Christian meekness and charity.

II. OBSERVE THE TREATMENT THEY MET WITH FROM THEIR LORD: "He turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." There is a mixture of mildness and severity in this reproof. He upbraids them with ignorance, and especially ignorance of themselves, and of the motives by which they were influenced.

1. They were unacquainted with the infirmities of their own spirit, the temper they derived from constitutional causes, and which had been insensibly confirmed by habit.

2. They were not aware of the principles and motives by which their present conduct was influenced. The springs of action ought at all times to be severely inspected, because if an action be materially good, it is not morally and intrinsically so, unless it, principle be good also. A corrupt motive depraves and renders unacceptable to God the most laudable actions.Conclusion:

1. From the instance before us we see what a mixture of good and evil there may be in the same persons.

2. If Christ's immediate disciples, who had the advantage of such instructions and such an example, did not know what manner of spirit they were of, no wonder that so many misapprehensions and mistakes are found amongst us. Who can understand his errors?

3. We see that particular actings of the mind may be wrong, even where the general frame and temper of it is right.

4. Though the disciples did not well know the motives by which they were influenced, yet Christ did, for He searcheth the reins and the heart. He knoweth what is in man, and needeth not that any one should testify. All the Churches shall know this, and He will give to every man according to his works (Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:8; Revelation 2:23).

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

WEB: It came to pass, when the days were near that he should be taken up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem,

Our Lord and the Samaritans
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