Christ Rejected

February 14, 2024
Sam Thorpe

In the book of Hosea and the Gospel of John the love of God was manifested in the face of rejection by His own people. The prophet Hosea, as directed by the voice of God, uses an analogy of unfaithfulness in a marriage relationship – literally between Hosea and an immoral woman – to illustrate the idolatry of Israel and their rejection of the LORD God. Yet the God of Israel never gives up loving His people.

Similarly, the Apostle writes about Christ’s rejection at the end of the first century: “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:10-11). John will further address this rejection as an analytical study of the Gospel of John reveals a progression that builds to a climax in the rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In chapters 5 through 6 we see a period of controversy emerging. Questions and criticism regarding the works of Jesus are introduced by John: the healing of the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath day (5:16); the Lord’s statement that “I am the bread which came down from heaven” (6:41-42); and the withdrawal of many of His disciples who were offended at His teaching about feeding on His flesh and His blood (6:53-56, 60).

These two chapters set the stage for chapters 7 through 11, the period of conflict. This is the longest single section of the 4th Gospel, depicting in parallel, belief and unbelief, as two opposing forces. The Jews were seeking to catch Him in some unguarded moment to kill him. Yet to Jesus, it was the pathway of destiny appointed by His Father. In this context, Judas, the betrayer, is identified as one having a devil.

Chapter 7 brings the rejection of Christ to a new level. The Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. Note that John chose to call it “the Jews feast” rather than the Feast of Jehovah, as presented in Leviticus 23. The Jews had planned to seize Christ at this feast in Jerusalem and kill Him (7:1, 11, 25). God had ordered this feast to be a time of great joy and thanksgiving for the faithfulness and blessings of God through the end of their sacred calendar year. Now over 1000 years later, it had become a feast of conspiracy and violence. Well might we hear the voice of Isaiah speaking: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3a).

Yet within the setting of this special feast, John reveals a fact that is very hard to understand. Very little is known about the Lord’s earthly life prior to His time of public ministry at the age of 30. We have likely imagined some family scenarios involving a young Jesus that may have occurred during these years from childhood to adolescence. But in Chapter 7 John reveals a shocking truth: “For neither did His brethren believe in Him” (vs. 5). How puzzling that siblings, raised together in the family with a sinless human being, could be blinded to who Jesus really was.

Consider in summary all the rejection Jesus is facing:

  • Some of his early followers were offended at His teaching and had left Him.
  • Jesus questions if the 12 disciples want to go away also.
  • His mind goes to Judas, the one who will betray Him to the Jews.
  • Jesus elects to stay in Galilee, for the Jews in Judea sought to kill Him.
  • His own family encourages Him to go up to the feast in Jerusalem at His own risk.
  • His brethren criticize His reservations about His no show at the feast.
  • John states “Even his brethren did not believe in Him.”
  • Christ later goes to the feast in secret, knowing it was not His time to be killed.
  • Christ tells His brethren, that the world hates Him, because He testifies of its evil.
  • Later, while at the feast (v. 20), they accuse Him of being demon-possessed.
  • This is the condition that he would face as Isaiah prophesied.

As believers in Christ, the world will hate us as well, especially if we are living as His disciples. Hebrews 13:12-13 says: “Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.”

When considering the unbelief of His brethren, it is almost an unbelievable situation. The obvious answer is that like Israel, they were blinded. Similarly, the world today is blinded to the gospel by the influence of Satan. Knowing their hearts of disbelief, Christ did not attempt to promote Himself, but only to carefully follow the plan of His heavenly Father. Even as Christians, in this world of opportunism, we are often influenced to follow the plans and strategies of earthly logic, as good as it may appear, for certain success. May we learn to accept and be content with the Father’s will. May our prayer be: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” During the times of national and local elections, Christians can get caught up in secular opportunism. Should we not be more fervent in prayer for the Father’s will to be done?

Through the strange but divine arrangement of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, an immoral woman of the street living in adultery, three children were raised. Each one was a prophetic symbol of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, and God’s persistent love for His people. Their names, given by God, reflect not only God’s relationship with Israel as His unfaithful people in Hosea’s day, but later forecasts the restoration of Israel to their Messiah:

  • Jezreel – “the Lord scatters” and later “the Lord sows”
  • Lo-Ruhamah “not pitied, no mercy” and later “I will have mercy upon her”
  • Lo-Ammi “not my people” and later “Thou art My people”

Yes, by God’s loving care and grace for His people, Hosea records a change in the above names, reflecting a restored relationship with their God (Hos. 2:23).

Through the prophet Hosea, and the apostle John, we learn that the Lord suffered great rejection from His people, yet He never casts them away. Israel is God’s covenant people, bound by His oath and promises to them by cords of love. Hosea chapter 3 is a beautiful scene of God’s restoration and eternal love for His people Israel: “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days” (Hos. 3:5).

The Bible contains many reassuring verses like this one that confirm God’s eternal love and care for Israel. Zechariah picks up the finishing touches in His prophecy: “And I will bring the third part through the fire, (His spiritual remnant through the Tribulation) and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God” (Zech. 13:9).

Yes, our Lord is now rejected by His people Israel, the Gentile nations, and mankind, in their rebellious spirit. But, for us, the apostle John records the Lord’s prayer; “O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee; but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:25-26). Suffering comes first; a glorious restoration follows. The suffering, rejection, and sorrow that He bore for us opened the door to such a great and eternal glory, soon to come. God is faithful. His promises are sure. His love is everlasting.