Rejection. It is an ugly word and one we fear. No one wants to suffer rejection, but we all do at some time in our life, including:
AND JESUS IS OUR FOCUS AS WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE RESURRECTION SUNDAY!
Earlier this month we examined some rejected women of the Bible as we explored the question: Does God care when I’m rejected? We will return to the ‘Does God Care?” series next month. However, since we are in the Lenten Season and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are just around the corner, let’s explore the many rejections of Jesus, especially as He prepared for the crucifixion.
While Jesus’ rejections were more intense and damaging at the end of His earthly mission, rejection occurred at the start of His ministry too.
YES, JESUS’ FAMILY REJECTED HIM!
“… Jesus’s family went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind” (Mark 3: 21 NCV).
You see earlier in this passage Mark describes great crowds pressing in on Jesus constantly, so much that He didn’t even have time to eat. Word got back to Jesus’ family and they took matters into their own hands and went to get Him. Obviously, Jesus is letting the crowds go to His head and is risking His health and wellbeing. He’s turning into a religious fanatic!
Then in John 7:5 the Bible tells us: “Even Jesus’s brothers did not believe in him.”
Interestingly, prior to Mark 7:5, Jesus’ brothers are urging Him to go to the annual festival to show off His miracles and knowledge. It would seem that the brothers were mocking the ‘desire’ of their brother to be famous or simply asking Him to prove Himself.
JESUS’ RESPONSE TO THEIR UNBELIEF
When His family came to get Him, Jesus refused them an audience! Our Lord continued to teach, ignoring their attempts to prevent Jesus from embarrassing the family name. Jesus also emphasized that only those who obey and believe are His true family. Jesus seems to be making the point that our spiritual family is more important and long-lasting than our biological family. Of course, they can also be one in the same. (Mark 3: 31-35)
Jesus’ brothers weren’t the first to ridicule His motives and urge Him to prove Himself. You know Satan and the Pharisees did the same thing. Satan told Jesus to prove He was the Son of God by turning stones to bread or jumping off the highest point of the Temple. The Pharisees requested miracles as proof of Jesus’ claims. However, as usual, it was a trick for they already saw miracles and still didn’t believe!
Jesus used Scripture to refute Satan’s challenges ((Matthew 4: 3-7) and the Pharisees ignorance. (Matthew 12: 38-42) Jesus’ time had not come yet and this is what He told His brothers also. Jesus told all these mockers to move along! There is nothing to see here – at least not yet!
IT WASN’T JUST FAMILY, BUT JESUS’ COMMUNITY REJECTED HIM TOO!
Mark 6: 1-7 tells about a time Jesus went to His hometown of Nazareth. The people were both amazed and suspect of Jesus’ teachings. After all, He was Mary’s son and just a carpenter. Because of their lack of faith, Jesus was unable to perform many miracles.
HOW DID JESUS RESPOND TO THE COMMUNITY REJECTION?
Jesus went to other villages in the area and taught. He also prepared His disciples for their mission trips. Sometimes, you must move on from rejection. “If a home or town refuses to welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake its dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14). While Jesus’ response to His family was to move along, in this instance, it was Jesus who moved along.
THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THE DAY REJECTED JESUS.
There are numerous examples throughout the Gospels describing the Pharisees rejection of Jesus as Messiah. These ‘men of God’ tried to trick Jesus in various ways to find a reason to kill Him. Talk about taking rejection to the extreme!
JESUS’ RESPONSE TO THE REJECTION BY THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS
Jesus had an answer for all his actions and spoke with a clear conscience, knowing He was accomplishing God’s will. His words were always right for the situation.
1 Peter 3:15, instructs us to provide answers with gentleness and respect. Certainly, this is the best way to convince those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior. And often with sinners Jesus did just that. e.g., the woman at the well (John 4: 4-42) and the woman caught in adultery. (John 8: 1-11)
However, there are other verses that advise us to take a different stance. It depends on the situation and the person who is rejecting us and our message. Are they rejecting out of ignorance or hypocrisy? Are they seeking, deceiving, or trying to trick us into making a mistake?
Paul tells us: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV).
And then in his letter to Titus Paul counsels: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9 ESV).
So, Jesus chose His words and demeanor according to His audience. Jesus knew that the Pharisees needed a different tactic. Therefore, He often answered their schemes with examples and parables that shamed them for their hypocrisy. Unfortunately, they were not deterred.
JESUS’ TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
During the days before the crucifixion Jesus experienced heartbreaking rejection. We should think of this while we observe the 40 days of Lent.
- Religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus in earnest because the people were following Him. (Mark 11:18)
- Judas rejects Jesus as the right kind of Messiah and decides to betray Him once and for all. (Mark 14: 10-11)
- Before the crucifixion, Jesus agonized in the garden, yet the disciples couldn’t stay awake to pray with and for Him. (Mark 14: 32-41)
- Peter rejects Jesus by denying Him three times. (Mark 14: 66-72)
- The people who praised Jesus a few days ago are in a frenzy screaming ‘Crucify Him!’ (Mark 15: 13-14)
- Pilate rejects the truth he knows about Jesus and turns Him over to be crucified. (Mark 15: 6-15)
WHAT DID JESUS DO?
Accepted His mission and showed great love by allowing the crucifixion so that the Resurrection could happen and our salvation is secure. He was silent when challenged and rejected by the religious leaders.(Matthew 27: 12-14) He rebuked the disciples for not staying awake, (Matthew 26:40) and encouraged Peter after His resurrection, allowing Peter to ‘make things right’ after His denials and to prepare him for the great ministry ahead. (John 21: 15-17) Once again, He took each situation and responded according to the need.
EVEN JESUS ASKED GOD WHY HE REJECTED HIM?
Ever feel like God rejected you? Well, even Jesus felt that way.
As Jesus dies one of his last statements was asking why God had abandoned him. However, Jesus knew God didn’t really reject him for he also said at the end, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands” (Luke 23: 46)!
Instead of feeling guilty for our question, totally submit to God and pray for the faith and trust you need at that moment, recognizing that God always has our best interest at heart.
“Since God intends to make you like Jesus, he will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems.” Rick Warren
If Jesus was rejected, we certainly cannot expect to escape rejection. In fact, the Bible tells us we are blessed when we are rejected for our faith: “What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22 NLT).
A Christian musician named Lacrae Moore once said, “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.”
Because we care so much about people’s acceptance, often more than God’s approval, we tend to allow rejection to make us doubt the truth about ourselves. Jesus certainly wants us to receive Him as Lord and Savior, but He never allowed foolish rejections to make Him doubt His mission. So, when you allow rejection to make you feel less than, remember that the only perfect person who ever lived was rejected.
Now as we examine the last words of the Lacrae Moore quote, we might say that Jesus did die from people’s rejection, but He didn’t. He died for you and me. Jesus made a choice to die so that we might be saved. He used people’s rejections to complete HIs mission on earth.
Click here to learn more about what the Bible says about rejection.
Did you learn anything about overcoming rejection? Any suggestions on how to cope when rejected? What did you think about the Warren and Moore quotes? Would love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.