by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries
Week 2 of Advent: Hope
Who would reject hope?
What normal person would reject hope? Or who would reject a messenger bringing news of hope? It sounds like a silly question, but it happens all the time. In fact, Dr. J. Gregory Mantle tells a story about a minister friend whose congregation always refused to accept his messages which were Biblically sound. [Sounds to me like they didn’t want to be confronted and convicted of their sin!] The choir made things worse, stirring up the discontent in the church, so he asked the choir to resign. The choir did resign, but then they persuaded the congregation to not take part in the congregational singing on the following Sunday. This continued for many Sundays.
One day, feeling dejected, he went for a walk and sat on a park bench. As he looked down, the pastor saw a torn newspaper flapping on the ground. These words on that page caught his eye: “No man is ever fully accepted until he has first of all been utterly rejected.” The pastor found comfort in the statement because it reminded him that Jesus too was rejected and His message of hope was rejected. Like many other pastors, prophets, and other messengers of Christ, this pastor was rejected for Christ’s sake. But this truth, became the beginning of a most fruitful ministry. (Encyclopedia of Illustrations – #4249)
Rejection – no matter who you are – hurts. Maybe you experienced rejection in school when your class was picking teams and you were always picked last. Or maybe your rejection was a promotion or a new job. Perhaps it was a boy or girl you had your eye on and hoped they would ask you out. Maybe it was a loan application. Maybe it isn’t you that was rejected – maybe it was your creative, out-of-the-box idea that you know could solve a problem if someone would just listen to you. Or maybe it was a special gift you had picked out for someone and they treated it like it was a total disappointment.
Regardless of how you have experienced rejection, we can find comfort knowing that there is Someone who has experienced an even great rejection. John 10:31-39, tells us about a time that Jesus was rejected – so much so the people wanted to stone Him to death.
Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good words from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?”
“We aren’t stoning You for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because You — being a man — make Yourself God.”
Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your scripture, I said, you are gods? If He called those whom the word of God came to ‘gods’ — and the Scripture cannot be broken — do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the One the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God? If I am not doing My Father’s works, don’t believe Me. But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.”
They they were trying again to seize Him, yet He eluded their grasp.
Jesus offered hope to humanity and humanity rejected Him
Jesus willingly came to earth just for the reason of saving humanity from their sin. It is man’s fault that sin entered the world, and when we needed a Savior, Jesus stepped up and left Heaven to come to earth and pay God’s price in our place. Since that price was dying on the cross, you’d think that all of humanity would be grateful. But no. The majority of the people rejected him.
4000 years after God’s promise of hope – hope arrived
Since the time of Adam until the birth of Jesus, approximately 4000 years had passed. As God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden, He also told them that through the Seed (descendant) of a woman (Eve) would come one who would crush the head of Satan. That one is our Hope for redemption and restoration. From that time until Jesus lived on earth, the Jewish people had been waiting for their promised Messiah. And when the Messiah stood right in front of them, they didn’t even realize the Messiah was there.
Jesus didn’t fit the mold of the Messiah and Hope of the World
Granted, they had an opinion about what their Messiah was supposed to be. In their mind, they saw Jesus as a royal person who would come in and conquer and throw off the yoke of the Romans, restoring their land and making them a nation again. Jesus didn’t fit the molded view they had created for the Messiah.
Instead of being a royal commander coming to their rescue that they expected, the Jesus that they saw before them was just an ordinary Jewish man who’s father was a carpenter and his mother was that teenage girl that got pregnant before she was married. In fact, when Jesus told Philip to “Follow Me,” Philip went to get Nathanael and said, “Come see. We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law (and so did the prophets): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!” (John 1:45). Philip responded, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael did end up following Jesus and became one of the 12 disciples. But over and over again Jesus was rejected.
Jesus was often rejected
- On the night of his birth the innkeeper rejected him because there was no room in his inn for Him. Instead Jesus was born in the stable and laid in a manger.
- In Matthew 8 – a whole city asked Jesus to leave
- In Mark 6 – Jesus’ home town of Nazareth were offended by him when he taught in the synagogue. According to Luke, they were “enraged.” So much so that they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the edge of a hill, in order to throw Him down the cliff.
- In Matthew 21, Jesus is the “cornerstone” that is rejected by the builders.
- Both Matthew and Luke record that the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Decapolis did not repent when Jesus preached there.
- In Luke 9, a Samaritan village would not accept him.
- John 6: many who were following Him, left Him
- John 10:31-39: they attempted to stone Him because they think He is blaspheming.
- The people had him arrested, tortured, beaten, ridiculed, and crucified because they rejected Him.
Their rejection became our hope
Yes, Jesus was rejected by His own people. And He’s been rejected time and time again since then and continues to be rejected today. And yet, Jesus is our hope. The greatest gift God could have given was the gift of His Son who would save us from our sins. But that gift was rejected by the very people who had been looking for Him for 4000 years.
Because they rejected Him and sent Him to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, we have hope. Hope for a restored relationship with God. Hope for forgiveness of sin. And hope for eternal life. However, every soul that has ever live must decide for themselves if they will accept this free and gracious gift of God by faith or if they, too, will reject Jesus. If you accept Him then Jesus is our hope. If you reject Him, He will be your judge.
What’s your choice? Hope or Judge?
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