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May 22, 2016

Jesus and Rejection

Passage: Mark 6:1-12

Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

Hear once again what the prophet Isaiah said about the Messiah who was to come,

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind,  a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. -Isaiah 53:1-3

Rejection. What could be worse? The crucifixion? The crucifixion was awful beyond human description but what made Jesus’ crucifixion so awful, so much more awful than anyone else’s crucifixion, was the rejection that he suffered.

His crucifixion was the one crucifixion in all the world in which the judgment of a Holy God on the sins of world laid upon on his body, mind, and spirit. That moment was the epitome of rejection- for it was a God forsaken moment in which “darkness fell over the face of the earth.”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried from the cross. When he said those words he was quoting Psalm 22, the words of David. When David penned them it was what he was feeling, but it was not reality.

David felt like God had forsaken him, but in reality He had not.

But when Jesus cried those words from the cross it truly was a God forsaken moment; for in one terrifying and all-consuming act of judgment the Father rejected His Son so that a way could be made for unrighteous sinners to be reconciled unto a Holy God.

Jesus Was Born for Rejection

Jesus was born for rejection. It was his rejection that led to your salvation, if you are saved. It was the will of God that Jesus be rejected. It was no cosmic accident. It was not plan B. It was plan A.

Hear what Peter said in his Pentecost sermon in the book of Acts.

Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. - Acts 2:22-24

In our text today Jesus encounters rejection and it hits close to home.

I could understand if it was me. My hometown knows my junk. Mrs. Morningstar knew I cussed. All my middle-school friends knew I got three sheets to the wind on New Year’s Eve in the eighth grade. Everybody in town knew about my love for firecrackers on people’s front porches and school bathrooms, and the snowballs I threw at cars. Even though I got saved the summer before the ninth grade I would never be able to get a church in Burlington NC because old rumors are hard to shake and most of the rumors you heard about me were probably true.

A Prophet without Honor

But Jesus? Why would he be rejected by his own hometown? He had no junk, he was the sinless Son of God, and he had done nothing wrong.

Well sort of…

In the eyes of God he had done nothing wrong but in the eyes of men, he was messing up big time.

He was calling sinners and tax collectors to follow him (noble concept). And in order to keep the spirit of the law Jesus sometimes broke the letter of the law by doing things that were considered taboo, such as healing on the Sabbath. Oh yeah, he was telling people to follow him and he was claiming to have the power to forgive sins. That’s a back handed way of claiming to be God. Those these things were good, they were considered to be wrong by the people.

Besides, even if these things he was doing and saying were right, since when did anything good come out of Podunk Nazareth? The Messiah is supposed to come from Bethlehem. Jesus was born there but he grew up in Nazareth, an insignificant place full of pigs and Gentiles. To top it off everybody knows that Mary got pregnant out of wedlock. Nothing good comes out of Nazareth and nothing good ever comes out of an illegitimate family.

Not only that, even his own family thinks he’s off his rocker. Do you remember a few weeks ago when we looked at Mark 3 when his family said he had gone berserk? (v.20)

To all of this rejection, Jesus quoted a popular proverb of the day, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives, and in his own house.”

Thank God it is so because if it weren’t this gentile would not be saved. The fact that gospel of Jesus had been largely rejected by his own people got him crucified, which got my sins paid for, and it ended up being the catalyst for the gospel going to the gentiles. As Paul said in Romans because of their transgression salvation has come to the gentiles! (Rom. 11:12)

God Is Sovereign Over Rejection

The good news in this text is that God is sovereign over human rejection. By that, I mean that God at times wills rejection and He always uses it, and when God does He always brings great good out of it.

In the instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples after his own rejection in his own hometown, he told his disciples to pack lightly in preparation for their mission work. One reason for this was so that if they encountered rejection they could pack their bags quickly and take the message to someone else who might welcome it.

The rejection of Jesus by his own people means salvation for you and me, but not if we reject it.

A Word of Warning- Familiarity Breeds Contempt

The problem that we have as a church is that we are like the family of Jesus. We are Nazareth. We are his relatives. We are his home. Jesus grew up in our midst. We know his story. We heard them in Sunday School. We became so familiar with his story that we slept when the preacher retold them to us. We know Jesus, but do we really know him?

Jesus said there is always “tares among the wheat.” (Tares unbelievers, wheat believers) The Protestant reformers of the 16th century always made a distinction between the visible church and the invisible church. The visible church is all of us. Those who belong to a worshipping community and have made a profession of faith. The invisible church is only those who have been truly saved, and only God can know that because only He can see into the heart.

The significance of this distinction between the visible church and invisible church is that it presupposes that there are people in the visible church who sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday and have made public professions of faith but who really do not know the Lord. So there is a warning for us here in this text as it concerns our Lord and Savior and the warning is that familiarity with Jesus does not guarantee saving faith.

In writing to the church the writer of Hebrews had this to say,

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31

May it not be said of we who are Nazareth on the Day of Judgment, “I amazed at your lack of faith.” (v.6)

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.