Luke 9:51-55

Luke 9:51 (KJB)
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,

The ministry of Jesus was now drawing to a close and the time was at hand that He should begin His trek to Jerusalem. Even though Jesus had done many healings, cast out many devils, and even fed thousands, He never lost sight of the reason which he came to earth for and that was to die for His Elect. (Isa 50:7 KJV) For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He steadfastly set or fixed Himself to head toward Jerusalem knowing what awaited Him. Isaiah stated He set His face like a flint. A flint was a piece of hard quartz which was even used in the old flintlock rifles. Here were are being given the picture that Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem with a firm understanding of His mission and there would be no diversion.

Luke 9:52 (KJB)
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

Since Jesus was in the area of Galilee and was starting His journey south, He had dispatched James and John from His group to a certain village in Samaria for the purpose of finding accommodations since there were many who were with Him. A large group would have strained the resources of a small village if they had arrived unexpectedly. Jesus always believed in preparation. It is not recorded which village this was.

Luke 9:53 (KJB)
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Since the people of the village knew that Jesus was going to Jerusalem, they had refused them the accommodations. There was a big rift between the Samaritans and the Jews because the Jews saw them as half breeds and were considered by them to be Gentiles, which meant they were unclean. They also used the Samaritan Pentateuch but rejected the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures especially the prophets. It was a bitter feud between them and most Jews when traveling north would go around Samaria instead of going through it fearing they would be defiled. Not only was hospitality refused, they had even spurned friendship as Jesus was extending the hand of friendship.

Luke 9:54 (KJB)
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

James and John were very indignant over the treatment they received. They were refused permission even to enter the village and pass through. Then they had gone back to report this attitude to Jesus. When they came back, James and John then lived up to their names, “Sons of Thunder.” In fact, this incident may be where their moniker originated. They had asked Jesus if they should call down fire from Heaven and consume them just as Elijah did. It is something that they remembered this Scriptural event very easily, yet kept forgetting about the part of the suffering servant.

Luke 9:55 (KJB)
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

Rebuked - Censure, warn or admonish

Jesus then turns to James and John and rebukes them sharply for what they wanted to do. Their plan was of a vindictive nature which would cause much harm. How could they reach these people with the Gospel if their desire was to destroy them? Ours is not to administer any type of vengeance toward anyone who rejects us or the Gospel. (Rom 12:19 KJV) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. If there is any retribution, it will be doled out by God who would have full and perfect knowledge of the situation. They were also not considering another aspect. What about those who would become saved in the future? The disciples did not know who was going to become saved and they would not be able to if they were destroyed. Jesus warns them that they are not to be of a vindictive spirit but to be of the Spirit which will indwell them. The Holy Spirit brings life and not death. (John 6:63 KJV) It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
James and John were not showing the true spirit of zeal but personal revenge and pride. Both of these have no place in the kingdom of God. It is possible that all the years they have heard that the Samaritans were unclean had built up such a prejudice, that it bordered on the desire to eliminate them.