Rejection (#36)

Hail, our once-rejected Jesus!
Hail, our Galilean king!
You have suffered to release us,
Hope and joy and peace to bring.
Patient friend and holy saviour,
Bearer of our sin and shame;
By your merits we find favour,
Life is given through your name.
John Bakewell

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:22, ESV)

The main message of the Gospels is that Jesus died and was resurrected. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each spend several chapters arcing towards the Passion narrative. John’s narrative hints at his death from the beginning, and spends about half of his book in the last two weeks of Jesus’ life.

Jesus knew that death awaited him when he was revealed in power as Messiah in Jerusalem. He often tells his disciples that he is going to die, but will be raised again to life. When he tells his disciples this, he is showing that he knew of his death beforehand, and faced it head on. He knew the afflictions that awaited him.

In his book True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer points out that Jesus said many times that the Son of Man would be “rejected, slain, and raised.” In Romans, Jesus’ death and resurrection prefigure our death to sin and our receiving a new spiritual life.

But rejection is also part of the pattern of our path to life. Welcoming Jesus means choosing to live life from a new integration point, opposed to the thinking of this world.

Fallen religious institutions will welcome almost anything except the presence of Jesus. In this sense, rejection and opposition should be encouraging. When we are rejected because of following Jesus, we know that we have chosen well.

John Wesley’s choice to preach outside the established churches was an offense to the hard-hearted, and he and his fellow preachers faced constant persecution. There is a story that once, while riding, he realized he had not been persecuted in quite some time. He dismounted his horse and knelt to pray. After a few moments, someone on the road recognized who he was and threw a stone at him. “Hallelujah!” cried Wesley, and returned to his journey.

When the wicked accept our preaching and turn, we can rejoice that we will welcome them into eternal dwellings. When they are offended at our presence or preaching, we should only take encouragement that Jesus before us was rejected, and he foreknew that persecution awaited anyone who chose to follow him in righteousness:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely hon my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12, ESV)

Jesus, thank you that you willingly faced rejection on my behalf. I thank you also for the rejection that I face in my own life as I seek to preach the Gospel among those who are distant from you. I know that my rejection in the end will work a blessing in my life and help me to cling to you.

Amen.

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