“Sons of Thunder” Denounce Samaria
When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.Luke 9:51-56
Elijah Denounces Ahaziah
Then the king sent a captain with his company of fifty men after Elijah. The prophet was seated on a hilltop when he found him. He said, “Man of God, the king commands you, ‘Come down.’” Elijah answered the captain, “Well, if I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men. The king sent another captain with his company of fifty men after Elijah. He shouted up and said, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down immediately!’” Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And divine fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.2 Kings 1:9-12
The New Elijah
From the crowds to the palace of Herod, rumors circulated that Elijah had arisen again in Jesus of Nazareth. In the face of Samaritan contempt, James and John reached for Elijah’s solution to quell their adversaries. Nicknamed “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), the brothers lunged with the Tishbite’s fiery zeal.
Jesus was a prophet of an entirely different order, however. While rebuking corrupt authorities, he refused to use violence on those who rejected him.
The New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to Luke 9:51-56 offers this insight:
In this episode Jesus disassociates himself from the attitude expressed by his disciples that those who reject him are to be punished severely. The story alludes to 2 Kgs 1:10, 12 where the prophet Elijah takes the course of action Jesus rejects, and Jesus thereby rejects the identification of himself with Elijah.
The Son of Man who is the Son of God cannot be put into a box. The New Elijah conquers with the cross, not the sword.
Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him.Luke 22:48-51
James and John rushed to call fire down like Elijah.
Jerusalem-bound Jesus spared Samaria.