Jesus Addresses Racism

Taken from Don McCurry’s, Tales That Teach (2009) ~

The greatest problem Jesus had with His disciples was racism [Blogger comment: I wouldn’t say it was “the greatest” problem, but agree it was bad]. The most dramatic illustration of this is seen by His disciples’ reactions to contrasting events in Nazareth and a village in Samaria.

Let’s look at them. The first occurs at the synagogue in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Jesus had just read the great prophecy in Isaiah 61:1, 2, and explained that those words were fulfilled on that day in Him. The audience was impressed with the gracious words that came from His lips.

A few seconds later, to the same audience, Jesus referred to two miracles done by the prophets Elijah and Elisha, respectively, to show that no prophet is ever honored in his hometown. The first miracle was about how the prophet multiplied a Canaanite widow’s food supply at a time when Jewish widows were starving. The second had to do with curing the Syrian general Naaman of his leprosy at a time when no Jewish lepers were cured.

Suddenly, the mood of the Jewish audience turned ugly. The people took Jesus to the brow of a hill to hurl Him to His death (Luke 4:24-30).

What did Jesus’ disciples do in His defense? The answer is “nothing.” Jesus escaped the people’s wrath by His own devices with no help from His disciples. He simply turned and walked untouched through the hostile mob.

But on another occasion in Samaria, under far less provocative circumstances, the disciples’ reaction was totally irrational. Or shall we say, “typically racist”?

Luke 9:54 says that in passing through a Samaritan village, Jesus had asked for lodging for the night. The Samaritans did not welcome Him. John and James, two of the inner core of Jesus’ disciples, asked Jesus for permission to call fire down from heaven and burn up the village. Interesting.

They did no such thing in Nazareth when their Master’s life was in real danger. But in a village of hated Samaritans, they wanted to destroy their “enemies” for their lack of hospitality.

The explanation for these two starkly contrasting attitudes is not hard to find. Why total passivity in Nazareth on the one hand and murderous intent toward the Samaritans on the other? The only answer is racism.

Jesus rebuked His disciples on that occasion in Samaria. Later, He healed ten lepers: one was a Samaritan–the only one to come back and thank Him. He called attention to that. On another occasion, He led His disciples to Jacob’s Well, where He had that memorable experience with the woman who led her whole Samaritan village to believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world.

Perhaps the story that has become the most famous of all Jesus’ parables is that of the “good Samaritan,” the man who showed mercy when no one else would (Luke 10:25-37).

What about us? Are the Muslims of our day like the Samaritans of old? Are we like the Jews? I think so.

pp. 337-338

Just as Jesus came to save all cultures and races, so His followers owe it to Him to enter all cultures and races with His message.

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