If you were with me yesterday,I talked about how to handle rejection. I said rejection can be hurtful and soul destroying. Maybe you carry inside you today a feeling that you were rejected as a child somehow,perhaps by a parent,and you’ve never been able to resolve the issue.
Billy Graham once said there are 5 topics he could preach about wherever he went in the world,and everyone would understand what he was talking about. The 5 topics were dealing with guilt,loneliness,fear of death,a need to be loved and dealing with rejection. This last theme ‘dealing with rejection’ is a universal problem regardless of age or gender.
Jesus understood clearly what rejection was like. I’m looking at Mark 6 where His friends turned against Him. “Jesus returned to His home town and with His disciples. The next Sabbath He taught in the Jewish meeting place. Many of the people who heard Him were amazed and asked ‘How can He do all this? Where did He get such wisdom and the power to work these miracles – isn’t He the carpenter,the son of Mary? Aren’t James,Joseph,Judas and Simon His brothers? Don’t His sisters still live here in our town?’ The people were very unhappy because of what He was doing. But Jesus said ‘Prophets are honoured by everyone except the people of their home town and their relatives and their own family.’ Jesus couldn’t work any miracles there,except to heal a few sick people by placing His hands on them. He was surprised that the people did not have any faith.” (V1-6)
I wonder what Jesus was thinking when He returned to His home town of Nazareth. At this point in Mark’s Gospel Jesus’ Galilean ministry is well underway. He has healed many people of many diseases,delivered a man from demons,called the twelve apostles and begun to train them,preached with authority,taught with colourful parables,stilled a storm,raised a girl from death to life and gathered a growing number of followers. I wonder what He was expecting from the home town folks. A welcome home parade? A school named after Him? A plaque in front of the carpenter shop that said “Here the Messiah,the Saviour of the world,learned to be a carpenter”? The key to the city? He clearly wasn’t expecting the kind of reception from the old neighbourhood that He got. How sad that day was. Jesus must have been bitterly disappointed in their response to Him. I think there’s a difference between rejection from people we don’t know very well or may not like, and rejection from people we know well and like. There are some kinds of rejections that bother us for a moment and quickly are forgotten.
Then there are other kinds of rejection that hurt deeply and linger longer. Rejection by our own family has to be high on that list. Rejection by the people with whom you grew up must be very tough. Rejection from a church is so painful. Rejection of one’s work is very hard. Jesus experienced rejection in His home town at a point where He wasn’t expecting it. What did He do?
• He didn’t question who He was
• He didn’t defend Himself
• He didn’t deny the hurt that He experienced
That’s what Jesus didn’t do. What did Jesus do?
• He did experience some personal pain
• He did reach out,even there,to some needy people,with God’s love and healed them
• He did go on with His mission in life. He went right on to the next villages telling them of God’s love.
He gives us some clear direction for dealing with rejection. No matter what the nature of the rejection,we can follow Jesus in these ways:
1. We can let God determine our worth,not other people. Do you know your worth to God?
2. We can admit when rejection hurts and then go on to healthy living. Do you know what it is to admit a hurt,then get on with living purposefully?
3. We can reach out to people in need and touch them with God’s love.
4. We can know God’s mission for us in life and keep on serving.
All our work matters to God; all of our relationships matter to God. We can live with a sense of mission,whether a carpenter or a computer technician,whether a homemaker or an architect,whether a student or a teacher. We are called to serve God in daily life – to live with a mission. Do you know your mission in daily life?
Jesus knew who He was and what His mission was. But Mark’s Gospel says “the people were very unhappy because of what He was doing.” Why? He was doing good stuff and helping many people…a local boy who had done well in the wider world? Perhaps. He hadn’t gone to the classical rabbinical schools. In fact,He was trained as a carpenter. He was the son of common Jews raised in a common home with sisters and brothers. His father was a carpenter and passed on the trade to his son. Jews at that time,had many expectations of what the Messiah would be. Jesus was astounded at their unbelief. There is power in unbelief. Their rejection could not stop God’s power. Even there Jesus reached out to sick people and healed then. Even there Jesus taught with authority from above. Even there Jesus displayed the wisdom of God. Yet they cut themselves off from displays of the glory of God because of their unbelieving rejection of Jesus.
Have you experienced rejection too? Be encouraged…because Jesus who experienced rejection in Nazareth will never reject anyone who comes to Him believing. Jesus said,”anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37). The one who experienced the ultimate rejection of death on a cross will welcome anyone.