I have a friend. His name is Edwin. Edwin was a pastor and teacher who shepherded hundreds of pastors and members of his congregation. He preached to thousands under stadium lights. He lived in a gorgeous house surrounded by a sea of green grass in Peru. Edwin is a studious man who came to believe that God is One. He then wrote a letter to the head director of his denomination exclaiming the newfound truth that was revealed to him!
The head director proceeded to read his letter aloud, televised to the entire church. He explained to the church that Edwin had abandoned them and was now committing adultery with another ‘woman’ (church). Rumors flew throughout the denomination. The head director told the church that Edwin was initiated into Satanism by Anthony Buzzard. Edwin’s best friend for 28 years told him that he was going insane thinking he was the ‘New Martin Luther’. “In one single day”, Edwin says, “I lost all of my friends.” He was rejected.
Jesus was also rejected by the crowd of people that had just welcomed him into Jerusalem a few days before. Picking up in Mark 15, Jesus is rejected by the city whereas Barabbas, a murderer, is embraced. The townsmen shout “Crucify Him…CRUCIFY HIM!” Sadly, rejection is a familiar feeling for Jesus.
Jesus was rejected by his family members.
We learn in John 7:5 that “not even his brothers believed in him”.
Jesus was rejected by people who claimed to love him.
Two of his most beloved friends, Judas and Peter, betray and deny him.
Jesus was rejected by his community.
Jesus was “without honor” in his hometown of Nazareth and now the community that just welcomed him triumphantly on a colt has disowned him.
Jesus was a revolutionist. He came to establish a new world government – to bring about a new convent not just for Jews, but Gentiles too! And a side-effect of radical change is rejection by some. We all face rejection at times and it always hurts. When we are rejected we feel like we are not wanted, loved or even valued. If we are not careful, we can even begin to reject ourselves. But I challenge you this, the next time you face rejection from your friends, classmates, coworkers or even family members, find peace knowing that we are not of this world. Jesus died an excruciating death on the cross not so that we can fit in with the world, but so that we can be a light to our peers even when it feels awkward, intimidating and uncomfortable. Be strong and courageous, friend!
After Jesus was rejected in the most dehumanizing way possible, the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, symbolizing the sacrifice Jesus paid so that we can have a direct relationship with our Father, God. There are no divisions between God’s perfect peace and us. I want to belong to God, not the world.
Oh, and my friend, Edwin? He is now a pastor who preaches the truth of our One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Edwin, his wife and children now live in a one bedroom home in Peru where Edwin and his wife, Aleida, lead a home-ministry. He also mentors ten other congregations and pastors in Peru who have learned from Edwin and believe in our One True God. This year, Edwin and Aleida travelled to Ecuador and Chile to spread hope of the Kingdom of God. Edwin was rejected by men, but embraced by Christ.
This week you will hear tidbits from a different member of the 2019 Peru Team who ministered in Peru this summer as we finish Mark. Thankfully, the narrative of Jesus’ life doesn’t stop here…Monday is coming.
Photo: Edwin & Aleida’s home ministry