How Jesus' Rejection Shows Us the Path to Resilience

Regardless of how we may feel about what we are trying to do for the Lord, we will be rejected in some form or fashion by those around us, whether family, friends, fellow church members, etc.

Contributing Writer
Updated May 28, 2024
How Jesus' Rejection Shows Us the Path to Resilience

Study Verses: Luke 4:14-30 (18-19); Isaiah 61:1-2

Jesus Preaches in Galilee and Is Rejected at Nazareth.

From Luke 4:14 through Luke 21:28, we can read about the message and ministry of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The actions and teachings of Jesus are accurately documented in the book of Luke, assisting us in comprehending and understanding the path to salvation. The book of Luke contains a great deal of material, particularly the parables of Jesus. The Lord came to show us how to live and find salvation. We are to concentrate carefully on the words and earthly life of our Savior.

The Synagogue and its Relevance to Today's Church

"When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures." - Luke 4:16 NLT

Synagogues played a significant role in Jewish life. They were established as places to worship on the Sabbath and as schools for young boys during the week. This happened during the Jews’ exile when they no longer had their Temple. After the Temple was rebuilt, they continued. Any town that had at least ten Jewish families could have a synagogue. One leader and one assistant oversaw it. The leader of the synagogue frequently invited a visiting rabbi to teach and read from the Scriptures.

Quick question: How does that compare with our modern church today? Quite a lot. Nowadays, we must have a committee for this and a committee for that. Some pastors do not want anyone stepping into their pulpit. I have even heard of a church that split up just because they disagreed over the paint color for the front door. And that was over twenty years ago.

The church is a place of worship where the people are in one mind and accord. A place to learn the mysteries of God’s Word. A place to come and fellowship with like-minded Christians, not a place where only a chosen few can dictate everything that goes on within the confines of the building’s doors. This is God’s house, not a house for a specific group whose only aim is to rule and control everything and make themselves look important. 

As we can see here, Jesus went to the synagogue “as his custom was.” That tells us that that was the accepted way of behaving in that society. People went to church regularly. He went to services every week even though He was the perfect Son of God and His local synagogue had many problems. His illustration shows us that most reasons for not attending church sound frail and self-serving. We ought to incorporate regular church attendance into our lives. Now granted, many cannot attend regularly due to physical health issues, but we are to try to attend church as much as possible (Hebrews 10:25).

Understanding Jesus' Reference to Isaiah 61

"The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.'" - Luke 4:17-19 NLT

Jesus was making a reference to Isaiah 61:1-2. Isaiah depicts Israel’s deliverance from Babylonian exile as a Year of Jubilee in which all debts were paid off, slaves were released, and property was returned to their rightful owners (Leviticus 25). However, the people’s expectations for fulfillment were not met upon returning from Babylonian exile. They continued to be oppressed and conquered. Therefore, Isaiah must have been referring to a messianic age in the future. In verse twenty-one, Jesus strikingly reports, “This day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears.” In a manner that the people will not yet be able to comprehend, Jesus proclaims Himself as the One who will bring this about.

Let us take a moment to look at Isaiah 61:1-2. Notice how the two passages of Scripture are almost identical? One phrase is of particular interest, “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” This portion will become a reality when Jesus returns to the earth again. We are currently in God’s favor; His wrath has not yet arrived.

Understanding Jesus' Rejection in His Own Hometown

"He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. 'The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!'” - Luke 4:20-21 NLT

Even in His hometown, Jesus was not regarded as a prophet. A lot of people have the same attitude. A person who comes from hundreds of miles away and carries a briefcase or some type of portfolio is considered an expert. We should not be surprised if those who know us struggle to comprehend or accept our Christian faith and way of life. How many of you have noticed that some people just “do not get you”? You do not seem wanted, needed, or even accepted as a part of that “family” of believers.

"Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. 'How can this be?' they asked. 'Isn’t this Joseph’s son?' Then he said, 'You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: "Physician, heal yourself"—meaning, "Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum." But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.'" - Luke 4:23-24 NLT

Is something wrong with the individual, or is something out of kilter within that church group? We must check ourselves through prayer and communion with the Lord and let the Holy Spirit shine a light on the answer.

Jesus Highlights God's Grace to the Gentiles

“'Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.'
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way." - Luke 4: 25-30 NLT

Because Jesus was saying that God sometimes chose to extend to the Gentiles rather than the Jews, these remarks angered the Nazarenes. Jesus implied that the people He was speaking to were just as deaf as the people living in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who were known for their wickedness during the time of Elijah and Elisha. Those who heard Him speak began to state that He had no right to make claims, and they became enraged. They even tried to hurry Him out of the city in an uproar, but Jesus just passed right by them and went on His way. They were so busy getting angry that they lost sight of Him.

Have We Been Rejected?

This passage of Scripture has been about how Jesus was rejected by His own; would you agree with that? Now, have any of you had the feeling that you were not accepted for presenting God’s Word in your own community? Think about that for a moment. God has called you to do work for Him, and yet it seems that no one wants to listen to what you have to say. Oh, they may appreciate you for other things like participating in the music, Sunday school and helping here and there, but it seems they do not want to hear you speak.

As I write this, my initial thoughts and title for this message were about the church and individual Christian ministries. I was going to examine the differences between the church and personal ministries to see if they were similar. I was going to examine the ministry and purpose of the church and of the individual Christian, but it has not turned out that way. That tells me that the Lord is sending me in a different direction. 

  • Rejection is being pushed away or refused by something or someone. 
  • Rejection is the refusal to accept or to believe in someone or something. 
  • Rejection can be the exclusion of one from another within a social context (personal relationships, groups, etc.). 
  • Rejection is to have been deemed inadequate or inappropriate. It is a refusal to agree with. 
  • How many of us have had the unfortunate opportunity to have been on the receiving end of rejection?

The Role of Rejection in Strengthening Our Faith

No matter what the world says, or what other Christians may say for that matter, we are to be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10). We are to rejoice, for if Christ suffered, we too would suffer (1 Peter 4:12-13). Rejection is a form of suffering, although some may disagree. And as one preacher had said, “Do not get offended.” 

  • Luke 10:16, He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
  • John 15:18, If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

In these two verses, the Lord tells us that we will be hated and rejected, in one way or another, just as He was. But Jesus also tells us to “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), that He “will not leave you comfortless” (John 14:18), and that He will “never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Regardless of how we may feel about what we are trying to do for the Lord, we will be rejected in some form or fashion by those around us, whether family, friends, fellow church members, etc. When those emotions begin to arise, we should go back to God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit provide comfort and reassurance. As no doubt many have heard, when one door closes, another door of opportunity opens that we did not expect. We are to quiet ourselves down. Fix our eyes upon Jesus. Tune in to what the Holy Spirit reveals to us and then press on.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/iprogressman

Chris SwansonChris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.

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