In order to understand this verse, let’s read verses 51-54: “And it came to pass, when the time had come for Him (Jesus) to be received up, that HE STEADFASTLY SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because HIS FACE WAS SET FOR HIS JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM. And 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, just as Elijah did!’” In verse 51 we learn that the time had come for Jesus to go to Jerusalem where He would be rejected, crucified, buried, resurrected and finally “received up” to heaven to sit on the Father’s right hand. Jesus knew “His hour had come” (see John 12:23-24, 27) for all these things to be fulfilled so He “steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” The prophet Isaiah had predicted this very thing in Isaiah 50:5-7, “The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I HAVE SET MY FACE LIKE A FLINT, and I know that I will not be ashamed.” The Lord Jesus knew it was the will of His Father to be rejected of men and crucified and that on the cross He would bear the sins of all who would believe on Him (see Isaiah 53:3a, 5-6, 11-12). His determination to do God’s will was seen in His face!

It is clear from verses 53-54 that the disciples did NOT understand the mission that the Lord Jesus had been given from the Father, for when they saw the rejection of Jesus by the Samaritans they asked the Lord if they could “command fire to come down from heaven and consume them.” Little did they realize what the Lord was about to do at Jerusalem for instead of destroying lives He wanted to save them.

We see this in verses 55-56, “But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do now know what manner of spirt you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’” In short, their “manner of spirt” was the very opposite of Jesus and the mission He was on. They wanted to “destroy men’s lives,” Jesus wanted to “save them.” In saying He wanted to “save them” He was speaking of “saving their souls” and making them fit for heaven. He had said this earlier in the presence of these very disciples on various occasions and yet they had not comprehended this truth. Listen to His words recorded in John 10:7-10, “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, IF ANYONE ENTERS BY ME, HE WILL BE SAVED…thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I HAVE COME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Another example is found in Luke 19:1-10 where Jesus was in Jericho and a man named Zacchaeus “sought to see who Jesus was” (verse 1-3) and Jesus told him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (verse 5). The crowd was indignant and complained saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner” (verse 7). Yet in love and grace Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today SALVATION HAS COME to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for THE SON OF MAN HAS COME TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST.”

How could the disciples witness the love and grace of the Savior to lost sinners and yet fail to see the mission He was on, a mission that would take Him to the cross of Calvary where He would die for sinners so that God could offer them salvation? Ah, the truth is that even though they had believed on Him as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (see Matthew 16:13-16 and John 6:66-69), they failed to see that He must suffer on the cross in order for men to be saved. After Jesus did accomplish this work He graciously opened their eyes to this truth: “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. Then He said them , ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ TO SUFFER AND TO RISE FROM THE DEAD THE THIRD DAY, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44-47).  (438.3)  (DO)