In Luke 9:53, why did the people of Samaria not receive Christ when he entered the village?
Well the answer starts in verse 51:
Luke 9:51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, (NKJV)
This was a milestone in Jesus’ earthly ministry and began His journey to the Cross. It was time. That is why He “set his face” to Jerusalem – the time to finish His business on earth had arrived.
When Jesus entered Samaria, the Samaritans knew of His plans to go to Jerusalem. This was an insult of sorts to them, because it represented a rejection of the worship of the Samaritans.
The Samaritans were the product of mixed marriages between Jews and non-Jews. This became a source of great disgrace in the eyes of the “pure” Jews who considered the Samaritans to be less than “dogs”.
The Samaritans set up an alternate worship site on Mt. Gerizim that was a mixture of Jewish and pagan ritual. Jesus addressed this in John 4.20.
So when Jesus came to Samaria and it became known that He had “set His face” on Jerusalem to go there for worship, the Samaritans “did not receive Him”… in other words, they refused to welcome or show hospitality to the Lord; and most likely were pretty vocal about it.
What is interesting to me is the response from the Sons of Thunder (James and John), “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them up?” (v.54).
The Lord gave them a stinging rebuke for their attitude which we need to learn a lesson from. When someone offends us, or even offends the Lord, we should not be too quick to “call down fire” on them but should instead pray for their salvation (v.56).