Daily Devotional - 20 August 2020
“He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care” (Isaiah 53:3).
Many people have great difficulty dealing with rejection. In fact, for many, rejection often creates crisis. Not everyone’s criticism stings equally; a stranger’s harsh words can be most easily disregarded, but those closest to us can wound us deeply. But should this be the case? While we should be open to criticism–we don’t always get things right or best–some negative input should be entirely disregarded. How can we know the difference? How should we respond to rejection. We might find it helpful to contemplate how Jesus dealt with rejection. There may have been crowds that followed Him relentlessly–wanting to hear His teaching, to witness His miracles or even partake in a miraculous meal–but many in the crowd were also quick to misunderstand, criticize and condemn.
Jesus faced rejection and being misunderstood, not only by strangers, but by those closest to Him. His family rejected His behaviour and were convinced that He was suffering some kind of mental breakdown. Which is why they attempted to “take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’” (Mark 3:21). In response, He chose to identify those who did the work of His Father as His brothers, sisters and mother.
After speaking in His hometown synagogue, those whom He had grown up around rejected His claim to be the Messiah. “They scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.’ They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him” (Mark 6:3). They even tried to toss Him off the escarpment the town was built on. He simply left and traveled to other towns that were more receptive to His teaching.
Every where He went doing good, He aroused the ire of those who opposed Him and His teaching. Luke tells the story of Jesus’ redemption of Zacchaeus (Luke 19). He’s a short man who is attempting to catch a glimpse of Jesus. But the crowd is in no mood to make room for this cheat, this pawn of Rome, this tax collector. So he climbs a tree–a full grown man on a desperate mission. Jesus stops below the tree and invites Zacchaeus to come down and then invites Himself and His disciples to Zacchaeus’ home for dinner. You might expect some resistance from Zacchaeus–imagine the nerve? Being informed you are going to host an unexpected dinner for a bunch of strangers. But the rejection Jesus faced in this interaction was not from Zacchaeus, who was entirely overjoyed by the prospect. This tax collector who had received such rejection and scorn from others, that had forced him into a tree, is magnanimous in his next decision, “Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount’” (Luke 19:8).
Jesus absolutely knew that this was Zacchaeus’ moment to make a change and encouraged him to do so. Because of Jesus’ centering out Zacchaeus for this honour, and his heartfelt response, Jesus announces, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9). But the crowd could have cared less. Rather than recognizing the spiritual renewal and rebirth happening right before their very eyes, they quickly condemned Jesus–“He’s gone to go eat with a sinner” (19:7).
Jesus knew what people were thinking whether He heard their muttering or not, but it didn’t deter Him in the least. He was steadfast in His purpose, unapologetic, courageously fulfilling His mission to ‘seek and save the lost.”
The rejection of others could not dissuade Jesus from living out the Will of God. He was single-minded in His purpose to fulfill God’s plans through His life and to bring His Father glory. He never forgot what He was to be doing and why. Maybe if we could begin living with that level of intentionality–to serve God wholly and to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, as well as loving others as ourselves–the rejection of people would find no mark in our hearts because we are fully sold out for God and our hearts now beat for Him alone!
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!