@johnvinod | March 8, 2021
We often think that Jesus went through a difficult time and was tempted only during the forty-day sojourn in the wilderness, which we observe as the Lent. However, a closer look at Jesus’ life and ministry reveals that he experienced difficulties, disappointments, sorrows, and sufferings throughout his life. Rejection has been part of his days on earth from the beginning. Remember, he had to spend most of his early childhood in a foreign country as a refugee because his parents fled their home country for fear of their life. He grew up without the love and care of his grandparents or relatives until his family returned to Galilee.
Here are some examples to reflect on today:
- Jesus’ twelve disciples, who were always with him throughout the three and half years of his ministry, often either misunderstood him and his teachings or did the opposite of what he taught. E.g., in Mark 10, soon after Jesus finished teaching on the importance of love, relationship, and keeping the family together; his disciples prevented little children from coming to Jesus Christ! The Message version translates it: “The disciples shooed them off.” Obviously, this made Jesus “indignant” (ESV) or he “became angry” (CEV), “became furious” ISV, “much displeased” (KJV), “upset” (NCV), “irate” (MSG).
- Jesus constantly taught for three years about the loving Father and their need for love for everyone. But in the last phase of his ministry and on his way to Jerusalem, a village of Samaria rejected Jesus. Two of his disciples, John and James, suggested immediately burning down this Samaritan village!
- Jesus always made plain the terms and conditions of following him and did not hide anything until the last moment because he called for a commitment from his closest group of the Twelve. And yet, he suffered the anguish of betrayal, being sold for thirty pieces of silver from Judas, his treasurer!
And I could go on. However, the most important question is: How did Jesus deal with his disappointments, being misunderstood, underestimated, rejection, and even betrayal?
First, Jesus always looked at these incidents and these people from the perspective of his Father Jehovah. Regardless of the way people treated him, he knew who he was. Even if people did not accept, he lived in the reality of being God’s Son. He was absolutely confident in knowing who he was and that he was loved in God’s eyes. His identity was not formed from what others thought or said about him, but it was solidified by the knowledge that he was invaluable in God’s eyes who had sent him on his mission.
Second, this self-identity and worth made him look at people differently. Therefore, others’ rejection or treatment of him did not dictate how Jesus treated them. He refused to behave disgracefully just because people had misjudged or abused him. The key to his approach is that Jesus Christ rejected rejection and moved on with the way he wanted to live and love.
Today, let us dwell in the knowledge that God values each one of us even if others or we ourselves feel of no value. Refuse to let any amount of rejection, suffering, and setbacks define who you are in God’s eyes. Similarly, let us break the repeating vicious cycle of reacting to rejection. Following Jesus, let us learn to reject rejection rather than reacting negatively to those who disdain us.