The Autopsy of Rejection

February 6, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

The apostle John uses the prologue of his gospel to introduce several themes that will be developed throughout his writing. One of the more devastating themes is found in verse 11 of his prologue: “he came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Jesus came to the Jews throughout Judea, drawing thousands of followers, but, by and large, most of them did not receive him. They rejected the promised Messiah, the fulfillment of all the Old Testament hopes and promises. 

I say this is one of the more devastating themes of the gospel of John because it serves as a warning to the church today. Membership in the church, as much as membership among the Jewish people during Jesus’ day, does not guarantee that you will receive Jesus. The Jews believed they were being faithful to God when they cried out “Crucify!” Little did they know that they joined their voices in complete opposition to the saving work of God. 

Being a member of the “in-crowd” does not save you. We are each called to receive Jesus as our only hope of salvation. 

As a way of self-checking our faith (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5), let’s perform an autopsy of this rejection highlighted in the gospel of John. This can serve as a deterrent against the poisons that lead us astray from Christ. Let me highlight just a few traits of rejection: 

  1. They Reject His Word. Multiple times throughout Jesus’ ministry, the Jews reject his Word. In John 2:20 they reject his word about rebuilding the temple. They reject his word about the truth (8:33). They reject his word about his relationship with God (10:31). To receive Christ, we need to receive his word. 
  1. They Trusted in Self-Performance for Kingdom Entrance. The Jews were caught up in self-confidence as their means of salvation. This is reflected in Nicodemus’s interaction with Jesus in John 3. Nicodemus heard of the concept of being “born again” and interpreted it as something he needed to do. “How do I do this?” This attitude is manifest from the Jews throughout the gospel. To receive Christ, we must not trust in ourselves. 
  1. They Were Quick to Judge Others. The Jews judge Jesus and even those whom he healed (cf. 5:18, 9:34). Judging others springs out of a self-confident heart. When threatened, the self-confident heart will lash out at others to tear them down. To receive Christ, our hearts must be humbled from self-righteous judgment of others. 
  1. They Love Their Own Glory. Jesus accuses the Jews of seeking glory from each other (5:44). And John explains that Jews hid their faith because “they loved the glory that comes from man” (12:43). You cannot receive Christ rightly unless you receive him as worthy of all glory. No one can share the glory with Jesus. To receive Christ, we need to reject seeking to please people. 
  1. They Lacked Spiritual Sight. Perhaps the deepest root of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus is their spiritual death. Jesus says, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (8:44). How can one see the goodness of Christ when his heart is clouded by spiritual deadness? To receive Christ, we need to cry out for his help and the revival of the Spirit! 

Check yourself. Do you see any of these symptoms of rejecting Christ in your life? Beware of this dangerous path that leads away from Christ!


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