Reflections on Rejection
Dr. Stephen Johnson
Mark 6:1-13, Mark 6:30-31
December 29, 2019

As a part of our human existence all of us want to be loved. We want to be accepted for who we are.

We want to fit in.
This yearning for community - for fellowship - for love creates in us one of the greatest fears that mankind can experience.

The fear of rejection.
Rejection is the polar opposite of being loved and accepted.
Rejection is one of the most difficult things that any of us can experience in this life.
It is one of the things most fearful about the next life - that we would be rejected by God.

No one wants anyone to reject them when they desperately want that person to accept them, to receive them and include them.
None of us like the feeling that we experience when the acceptance we desired is rejected outright.

And yet, rejection is something that we have all experienced and will experience in the future. Rejection is sadly a part of the human experience.
It begins in our childhood. We get laughed at or ridiculed. We're not chosen by this certain team or that group. We're not invited to sit at this table or allowed to hang out with this crowd. We're not invited to go to this party or this social event.

Rejection doesn't end when we graduate from either middle school or high school. The truth is we all have to face the possibility of rejection throughout the rest of our lives.
People get rejection letters from trade schools and from colleges. They get rejection notices from banks on loans and are told they can't buy this house, this car or that boat. They receive rejection emails or messages from prospective employers.

We all know people who have faced rejection because of their skin color, the way they look or the culture that they come from.

You are not tall enough. You are not pretty enough. You are not smart enough. You are not young or old enough. You don't speak well enough. You don't carry yourself the right way. You don't come from right background. You don't have enough money. It really doesn't matter what the rationale is, the fact is you have been rejected.
And it not only happens to just a portion of our population.

It happens at some point to everyone.

1. We all face rejection

Our world is full of people who will reject us.

In our passage for this morning we see that even Jesus and his disciples are rejected.

Jesus faced rejection and did his best to prepare his disciples to face rejection.

Jesus came to his hometown. By this time in his ministry word had spread.
He was doing incredible things.
People were healed.
Demons expelled.
A child risen from the dead.

So it is no surprise that a crowd joins him in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

As they listened that Sabbath morning, Mark tells us that everyone was amazed.
They had not heard someone speak the way that Jesus was speaking.
His words were full of power and authority.
His presence was electrifying.
He literally lit up the room.
There was an energy about him that was inviting and warm and yet at the same time invaded the very depths of a person's soul and spirit.

It is a pretty good start to a time of teaching.

But then the people start to remember the Jesus they grew up with - or that they saw grow up in their town.

What started off well ended up being this horrible and horrendous time of denial and rejection.

The town turned on Jesus.
His own people turned on him.
The very same people he grew up with turned against him.
They began questioning his identity.
They questioned his abilities.
They began to wonder how in the world this little boy that they had seen walk around their town could do all the things that he could do.

He was just a carpenter. A local handyman.

Then they attacked his family.
Mary - but not Joseph. Who knew for sure who his father was?
The gossip and slander that surrounded Jesus’ birth still alive and well.

Who does he think he is seeking to teach us?

He’s just a carpenter.
His family doesn’t amount to anything.

So the people are just offended by Jesus.

Jesus gets straight to the heart of the matter:

“A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”


And it isn’t only Jesus who faces rejection in our text.
The disciples do as well.

Well, at least that is what Jesus told them to expect.

After Jesus leaves Nazareth, he called his disciples together and send them out to call people to repentance.

The instructions Jesus gives are specific.
Don’t take anything for the journey.
No bread, no bag, no money, not even an extra tunic.

Go in faith that your needs will be provide.

Oh, and one other thing Jesus told the disciples.

Be prepared to be rejected.

It is a lesson we all must learn, especially if we are attempting to call people to Jesus.

No matter what you do or what you say or even how nice your are there are some people who will reject you because of the message you bring.

We all face rejection.

When you speak of your faith, people will reject you and they will reject you for what you stand for.
They will reject you for merely being you.
And they will reject you and your message because of what they think you are.
What they think you stand for.

Because if you announce that you are a believer in Jesus Christ, those who reject him will also reject you.

You an count on it.

No matter how gifted, how anointed or how Spirit-filled you are the truth is some people will simply reject you because of what you believe or even worse, what they think you believe.
Everyone faces rejection.

When we are rejected, we often want to ask why?

That's the question that sometimes just bugs us.
We don't like it when we are rejected.
We want to know why?
Sometimes the question is worth asking.
Maybe we were rejected because we haven’t showered in a month.
Sometimes we are rejected because we are at fault.
Sometimes we were rejected for reasons we will never know.
Notice when Jesus tells his disciples what to do when rejected he doesn’t tell them to sit back and ponder:
Is it me?
Is it them?
Are they stupid?
Am I stupid?

The response Jesus modeled for his disciples and instructed them to take was simple and straightforward.

Walk away.

2. We need to learn to walk away
When Jesus was rejected in his hometown:
He walked away.

And in his instructions to the disciples he essentially said: Walk away.

Don’t get stuck where you are not wanted.
Brush it off and walk away.

Not that this is easy.
It certainly isn’t very natural.

We were not created by a loving God to either be rejected or to reject someone else.
It was not in God's plan for any of us to face rejection or be rudely dismissed. I

However, the truth is that we will all have to face rejection.
The key is what we do when we are rejected.

If we are not careful, we may decide to isolate ourselves and avoid people in general.
We may decide that we are going to do our best to stay out of any conversations.
We’ll avoid any group settings where rejection is possible.
Or we can choose to be angry and decide to give people a piece of our minds.

Feeling rejected can lead us to sin.

That is not a good option.

We must not allow rejection to lead us to living a life filled with anger, bitterness, revenge and malice.

It will paralyze us.
Rejection can cause us to stop living.
It can stop us from enjoying life.
It can stop us from fulfilling our dreams.
If we keep rehearsing all the times we have been rejection by this person, that person, this group or that group then we will allow our rejections to hold us hostage.

Rejection can stop us from sharing the gospel.

That is why Jesus and his disciples walked away. They didn't get into an argument.
They didn't get into a long term battle.
Jesus knew that in some situations that the best thing we can do is for us to walk away.

We can't allow rejection to paralyze us.
We can't allow rejection to destroy us.

We have to know that sometimes the truth is that there are some people that do not want to hear the gospel.

As Jesus said in Matthew 7:6
"do not cast your pearls before swine"

Walk away.

When we are rejected it hurts our pride.
It wounds our souls.
We’ve got the greatest news of all!
How dare they reject us and the message we bring.

Jesus says, when rejected,

Shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against those who refuse you.

Shaking the dust off one’s feet conveys the same idea as our modern phrase “I wash my hands of it.”

It is a symbolic indication that one has done all that can be done in a situation and therefore carries no further responsibility for it.

Now, a side note, when Jesus sends out his disciples he sends them out in teams of two. Friends can help you handle rejection and we all need friends. Not to make us bitter but to help us brush it all off and get ready for a new day.

The question is not will you face rejection - it is what you will do during it and after it.

Jesus says there is a time to walk away.

There is one more lesson I want us to glean from this text, and it actually comes after an interlude which we will look at next week - for Mark inserts a note about the death of John the Baptist - perhaps as a time marker while the disciples are out proclaiming that people should repent.

So look ahead to verse 30 and 31

“The disciples returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

After you have faced rejection you should get some rest.

3. Get some rest v30-31

Of course the disciples had a season of ministry with its ups and downs.

In Luke we read that the disciples went through the villages preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

There were undoubtedly some great moment of ministry.
And there were times of rejection.

Jesus understands the human soul
He understands that you cannot minister perpetually.

You need to take time to rest.

I find it interesting that he tells the disciples to go to a desolate place and rest a while.

You know what he doesn’t say?
Go on a cruise.
Take a trip to Hawaii.
Or maybe Vegas.

That will recharge you!

No, he says, go to a desolate place.
A place where you can be alone with God.
A place where you can be still and know that God is still in control.

During the ministry of Christ it seemed as though the crowds were always pressing in upon him and the disciples.

32 times in Mark’s gospel the talks of the crowds that met Jesus along the way.
Nine times they are “great crowds”
Walking with Jesus was hectic.
And as much as you may love a crowd, serving in that hectic environment called for times of rest.

It is in keeping with the creation story.
A story which finishes with rest.

For on the seventh day, God rested.
As we begin the new year, if you are at all faithful in sharing the gospel, you will face rejection.

Jesus was rejected. The disciples were rejected.
You will be rejected.

Learn to walk away, and when you need it, go to a desolate place and rest a while.

When we are overwhelmed by rejection we can find refuge in Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear
The Lord of hosts is with us;
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
“Be still, and know that I am God.
The Lord of hosts is with us;


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