“I have come in my Father’s name and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.” (John 5:43)
When God sent his Son into the world, it was intended as a gift. By this gesture he meant to reconcile with his creation over Adam’s sin. He wanted to make humanity a better offer – the gift of eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)However, at the time he made this offer he knew how the world would receive his Son. Remember God knows the end from the beginning. Nevertheless, he did not give up on his plan.
Eight hundred years prior to the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, God published through the writings of his servant Isaiah, the kind of reception the world would reserve his Son. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3) Right from his birth, Herod the reigning king, had considered him a rival and had devised ways to eliminate him, but to no avail.
Chosen by God and precious to him
Several attempts were made to get rid of Jesus, who claimed to be the Messiah – the One who came to save humanity. The authorities of the day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, ganged up against him and saw him as their archenemy, a rebel – someone who intended to destabilise the system that they had put in place and were benefitting from. That system did not address the people’s spiritual needs.
He was for them ‘a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ (Isaiah 8:14) Jehovah, he is God. He has the final say.“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Psalm 118:22)
O, how they heaped obstacles on his way! How they sought to belittle him and ridicule him every step of the way with questions set as traps intended to embarrass him. Each time they plotted and schemed, our Lord Jesus, who was the very epitome of wisdom, discerned their real motives and his answers squashed their ignoble intentions.
Once, Jesus went into a town in the region of Gadarenes where he met with a demon-possessed man who was so violent that he had to be chained. He delivered him from a host of demons called Legion (from which he got his name) that later entered ‘a large herd of pigs’ and drowned. When the event was reported to the town and countryside, a crowd gathered and Jesus and his party were asked to leave. (Luke 8:37) Jesus left the scene because they did not want the likes of him around.
On another instance in Nazareth, in the town where he had been brought up, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath as was customary. He was given a passage of Scripture from prophet Isaiah 61:1 to read. After reading the script, he rolled up the scroll and said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) In other words, Jesus was confirming that that passage of scripture was referring to him. This remark annoyed the gathering and it led to an argument with the elders asking; “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” and Jesus concluding, “I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24) The people were infuriated. “They got up and drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.” (Luke 4:29) Can you imagine?
You will observe that in the first incidence it was the whole town and the people from the countryside who were mad at the Lord. In the second encounter, it was ‘all the people in the synagogue’ who had mobilised to kill him. But his time had yet not come, so “he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:30) Amazing!
For our sakes, our Lord Jesus was maltreated, scoffed at, spat upon and mocked. Worse of all, he was labelled a criminal for simply admitting he was a king come from the Father. His punishment was not commensurate with the crime for which he was accused. But that the Scriptures might be fulfilled; it is written, “And (he) was numbered with the transgressors…” (Isaiah 53:12b)
Outright rejection of the One who came to save the world from sin, showed to what extent the eyes of the world had been blinded. It still is unfortunately. Jesus came to the world in order that we might have life and have it to the fullest. (John 10:10) “… the Scriptures … testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:40)
Despite all the odds, our Lord Jesus never abandoned the course set for him by his Father. As he breathed his last, he exclaimed; ‘It is finished!’By this he meant, I have accomplished the work that my Father had sent me to do.
Would you despise him too? The only crime he committed was his willingness to lay down his life to die the death of a criminal so that humanity would be saved.