Mark 6:1-6- Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Family, friends, and those close to you… they can be your biggest fan or sometimes your greatest source of pain and rejection. Jesus saw this first hand when he faced rejection from his hometown. These were people that saw Jesus grow from a child, most likely friends who had played with him, seen his family, knew of his extended family. They could not fathom how someone that they “knew” could claim to be the Messiah and perform the miracles that they were starting to see. Jesus was rejected and it wouldn’t be the first time.
In John 1:46, Nathaniel asked “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Was it a coincidence that Jesus came from a town that caused such a reaction? Of course not. Nothing about Jesus’ ministry was a coincidence. Jesus defied all human expectations. As it turns out, the BEST news came from Nazareth!
I want to talk specifically about family and friends and how many times when we move in God’s call on our life we face rejection from those who know us the best. Some examples of this are when we accept Jesus, we move in ministry, we go on a mission trip, we give up activities that we used to do with our “friends.” By doing these things, we can face a prideful judgment from others who think they know us, they know what we have done, the failings we have over the years, the doubts we have, our limitations. They may think “oh I remember the time he got drunk and lost his job, now he expects to minister to people in prison? He should be IN prison!” These people, however do not realize the transformation that can happen when Jesus is invited to a life, they may know who you WERE but they do not know who you ARE in Christ!
Rejection is never fun… at any age. Even babies feel rejection when they are not held or cared for. In school it’s easy to feel rejection from someone who doesn’t want to be your friend, and most people have a rejection story of someone they were in love with. Rejection happens to everyone but Christians can expect rejection simply because they believe in Jesus.
If you feel rejection from those who are close to you, know that you are in good company with Jesus.
He said in Matthew 10:34-39:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
If you are confident that you are moving in the path that God has set before you, you must turn off the desire for acceptance and the desire for validation from other human beings. Obedience to God’s will is the only thing we need to be concerned about. If you are in ministry or following God in any way, you can be sure you have a target on your back from the enemy. Many times the enemy will use those closest to you because he knows that they have your ear.
God’s people have always faced rejection and persecution. The prophets were reviled, tortured, and killed (Hebrews 11:37). History records that ten of Jesus’ disciples were executed for preaching Christ. Tradition states that Peter insisted on being crucified upside down because he counted himself unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. Yet he wrote, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of God and of glory rests on you” (1 Peter 4:14). The apostle Paul was jailed, beaten, shipwrecked, and stoned numerous times for preaching Christ, but he considered suffering not even worth mentioning compared to the reward he knew awaited in paradise (Romans 8:18).
Christians are not called to live a comfortable life, Christians today, every day, face the real danger of being martyred for their faith. While the cost for following Jesus can seem high, it also does not guarantee rejection from family, friends, or loss of life. The question, however, for you today is: are you willing?
Many people STILL reject Jesus today, for various reasons, but it is similar to why He was rejected during His ministry on Earth. The masses wanted Him to look a certain way, to offer fleshly benefits, and to redeem them from the immediate oppression they were being faced with in the culture. Today, we still need to look at who Jesus IS and NOT who we want Him to be…
The rewards for being faithful to Jesus far outweigh the cost. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us where there is no more crying, pain, death, or rejection. Jesus paid the price of the ultimate rejection from His own creation so that we could be saved through that sacrifice.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-11, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
I love the way John Piper puts it-
What can justify such counsel to people in pain? — ”Rejoice and be glad!” I see two possibilities: either this is the talk of an insensitive, sophomoric, ivory tower theologian who has never known what it is to scream with pain, or this is the talk of one who has seen something and tasted something and knows something about a reality that most people have never tasted or glimpsed.
This is the Lord speaking. It is not some pastoral novice that blunders into a funeral home slapping people on the back, saying, “Praise God, anyhow.” This is the Lord. And he says to his disciples, most of whom will drink the cup of martyrdom, “Rejoice and be glad” when you are persecuted, when you suffer. How can he say this?
He can say it because he knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the reward of heaven will more than compensate for any suffering we must endure in the service of Christ. “Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” There is a mystery here — the mystery of joy in the midst of agony; the mystery of gladness in the midst of misery and groaning. And this mystery is contained in a miracle, namely, the miracle of faith — the bedrock assurance that heaven is a hundredfold compensation for every pain. To the degree that you believe what Jesus sees in heaven, to that degree you will be able to rejoice and be glad in suffering. “Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” (https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/blessed-are-the-persecuted)
Discerning reflection: What rejection have I faced from friends or family and have I still moved in what God has called me to? How can I view rejection and persecution in light of Jesus and His ministry on Earth?
Prayer: God, help me consider it an honor to face rejection and persecution for your name. Help me be faithful in what you have called me to do regardless of the attacks that come my way. May you name be glorified in my life, Jesus, Amen.
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