I hate rejection. It turns me into a small-unloved child desperate for acceptance. I despise feeling that naked vulnerability. To avoid these dreaded emotions, I spent a lifetime striving for perfection, convinced that at my best no one would ever reject me again.
My strategy is as flawed as I am. Jesus, being perfection, knew rejection. Here’s the proof.
John the Witness sets the stage as he heralds the coming Messiah. John also known as the baptizer witnessed the supernatural anointing at the baptism of Jesus. No doubts remain on the identity of the Messiah.
The stage moves to the wilderness where Jesus has a dramatic face-to-face victory over Satan through the power of the Spirit given at His baptism. He then makes the Promise Land His stage as He travels from town to town wowing the crowds.
After recruiting His disciples and amassing a troop of followers, Jesus’ ministry is on the move throughout Galilee. (Matt 4:23-25; Mark 1:21-39; Luke 4:31-44; John 1-4) Jesus becomes the headline news as the word spreads how God is at work among a people who hadn’t seen an Almighty move in over 400 years.
Read Luke 4:14-30, notice Luke being very careful to point out that Jesus enters town in the power of the Spirit. Take note, anytime the power of the Spirit is present wild things are going to happen.
I can imagine the Nazareth Homecoming Parade with Jesus as Grand Marshall, the hometown boy made good. Scripture doesn’t tell us if He visited His earthly family. But it does say that He did what had always been normal for Him, synagogue on the Sabbath.
The locals gave Him the high honor of reading the Torah. I imagine a standing room only audience and all eyes on Jesus who selects Isaiah 61:1-2. Two verses and He rolled up the scroll. Nods, smiles, and affirmations, the people love this short service.
Next comes what is probably the shortest sermon recorded for any synagogue service. Jesus declares, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Sitting there, studying the faces, and reading their hearts, Jesus waits. Now that’s a dramatic scene.
But wait, the best is yet to come. All those praises for the hometown boy are about to change drastically. It was clear to Jesus; the people hadn’t come to hear the truth. They came for a show of miracles. (Verse 23) They wanted the next headlines to come out of Nazareth, no doubt envisioning a grand financial boost to their town, often degraded by others. (John 1:46)
They could accept Him being the Messiah, doer of miracles, healer, and rescuer as long as He didn’t attack their uniqueness. In verses 24-27, Jesus did just that. He slammed their elite status as Jews. He had the nerve to declare Gentile ‘dogs’ as having a part of God’s Kingdom plan. Their Jewishness was meant to make them humble and compassionate to the world, instead they used their uniqueness to deepen their pride.
Same thing happens today, we can let him be God as long as He keeps His distance from our personal lives. The minute He starts to meddle, He’s got to go. Mob mentality took over and the adoring crowd becomes the murderous mob unsatisfied with just throwing Him out of town. They were determined to throw Him off the cliff.
Anyone who has ever witnessed to a lost friend has lived this scene. In a matter of seconds, a friend can become a foe. The beauty of this story is in the character of Jesus. Just as the praise didn’t inflate His ego, the rejection didn’t deflate Him. He simply walked away and continued His mission: totally untouched physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
How? We’ll explore the answer next week.