It wasn’t until after my mom and my brother died that I had a thousands questions to ask each of them. And the older I get and experience more of what it is to be human and live in this world, the more I wish I could ask them about their own thoughts and feelings. But when you’re younger, you don’t know what questions to ask and you can’t reflect on life the way you can after you’ve lived a while.
In the same way, there are so many things about my Lord that I am so slow to appreciate. His rejection is one of those things.
In thinking about times I’ve been rejected, I recall the sadness and impossible chasm of misunderstanding that opened up where there was once unity. As tempting as it is to keep my eyes on my own experiences, God wants me, “looking unto Jesus.” And when I do, I see my rejection as a mere paper cut compared to his Golgotha.
- Jesus was rejected as a toddler, Herod slaughtering other children hoping he was among them.
- Jesus was rejected by his own family; they thought he was nuts.
- Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders, the very ones who should have been celebrating his zeal for the Lord and his example of piety.
- Jesus was rejected by those in the towns were he sought to preach, teach, exorcise, and heal.
- Jesus was rejected and betrayed by one of his closest friends (and for less than twenty bucks I’m told).
- Jesus was rejected by those in Jerusalem, with one breath they sang out, “Hosanna!” and the next they raged, “Crucify him!”
- Jesus was rejected by his own people, Israel, whom he loved and cared for since he called out Abram and made him a nation.
- In his rejection, Jesus was punched, spit upon, his beard was pulled out, he was whipped, dressed and mocked as a king, and made him carry his own cross to his public execution–all at the hands of his own creation. He had made them in his image, making them, “a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor.” In return they crowned him with thorns.
- Above his crucified head, THE KING OF THE JEWS was inscribed in the three main languages of the time, signifying his rejection by the whole world.
- As the onlookers jeered and taunted, even the common criminal hanging next to him felt superior to Jesus, using his last gasps on this earth and final his hours of life to hoist himself up for air enough to join in the mockery and rejection.
- And none of it was close to the weight of being the innocent Lamb of God suspended there for the sins of the world, being rejected in those final hours by his own Father, crying out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”
And still today, though risen, triumphant, and glorified, the Lord Jesus Christ is rejected. He’s rejected by the world in total, and by individual men and women. As Keith Green wrote,
So many laughing at Jesus
While the funniest thing that He's done
Is love this whole stubborn rebellious world
While their hate for Him just goes on
And before he was merciful to save me, I rejected him, too. Even now, saved as I am and safe in his love and grace, how many times a day do I reject him? How many times when I want my own way, not his? How many times a week do I shove off his tender care, too caught up in my own selfishness, too desiring to embrace, and be embraced by, my own sin? How often I reject my Lord by opting not to pray, not to read my Bible, not to love my enemies like he modeled loving his (as if I were more rejected than he!), etc.
Rejection? No, I haven’t the slightest idea what it feels like to really be rejected.