When a bad mood spreads we often think nothing good can come of it, and usually we’re right. But sometimes important—if uncomfortable—growth can only come from something as foul as a bad mood. A biblical commentator suggested that this passage may embody that very growth.
Jesus turns his face to Jerusalem—which means death—and that can make anyone sour and angry. Then, seeing Jesus focused on Jerusalem, a Samaritan village refuses to welcome him. Maybe this refusal comes for ancient reasons of ethnic and religious bias. Or maybe Jesus’ focus has caused him to disappoint them in some way. Anyway, this rejection turns the disciples nasty. James and John suggest destroying the village. This gets Jesus even angrier. He rebukes them before they all move on to another village.
Then three potential followers come up to Jesus looking to sign on with him and his movement. In response, Jesus allows the ugly mood to flow their way. His stern words and harsh manner make this an unpopular text with preachers and Christians in general.
Jesus forces each of the potential followers into a necessary crisis. He forces each to wrestle with whether or not Jesus and the rule of God he embodies are first in their lives. Is God, well, God? Or does some other god remain their god? The demands of discipleship and following Jesus are great.
Our growth in the life of faith includes facing these questions for ourselves, but we rarely will unless our backs are pushed up against a wall. Sometimes it will take nothing less than a holy wildfire of bad moods to get us to take a serious look at what makes us fit for the kingdom of God.

Lord, help me to see even the hard times as opportunities to grow. Amen.


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