”He was despised and rejected by mankind, a Man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:3)
In fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), was rejected.
He was …
- misunderstood (Matthew 26:61; Mark 4:38; John 8:14–16, 11:48, 19:21),
- demonized (Matthew 12:24),
- set up (John 8:2–11; Luke 20:20–26),
- cursed (Galatians 3:10–14),
- betrayed (Mark 14:44–46; Luke 22:47–48),
- slandered in court (Matthew 26:59; Luke 23:5; Acts 6:14),
- disowned (Isaiah 53:3, 8; Matthew 26:69–75; Luke 22:54–62),
- mocked (Matthew 26:67; 27:27–30; Luke 22:63–65; 23:11),
- arrested (Matthew 26:47–56; John 19:12),
- beaten (Isaiah 52:14; 53:4–5; John 19:1), and
- executed (Isaiah 53:8; Matthew 27:32–44; John 19:23–37).
Why was Yeshua rejected?
Although there are many reasons, it could be said that He didn’t fit into preconceived notions of who the Jewish Messiah should be or how He should act.
In part, those preconceived notions are based on Bible prophecies foretelling the two comings of the Messiah: one as the Suffering Messiah (Messiah Son of Joseph, see Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 12:10) and the other as the Ruling Messiah (Messiah Son of David, see Isaiah 11:1–10, Psalm 72: 1–19, also Daniel 7:13–14, Isaiah 9:6).
Sometimes the rejection of Yeshua was based on a misunderstanding of Him or a misreading of His intentions. Whatever the reason, in the end, many of the religious establishment fell into fears that led to His utter rejection and execution.
Likewise, today, Jewish Believers in Yeshua also experience rejection based, in part, on the fact that the Jewish People over the centuries were murdered by Christians — people who professed to follow Yeshua. Another reason is because their beliefs do not fit into the understanding of traditional Judaism.
Generally speaking, Jewish people are not taught the Messianic prophecies, and they are not aware how Yeshua fulfilled prophecies about the First Coming of Messiah.
Consequently, many Jewish Believers find themselves rejected by their family, synagogue, and community.
As well, both Jewish and Gentile followers of Yeshua don’t fit into the World system, which opposes the teachings of Yeshua. Believers today can face much of the same rejection as Yeshua did, even to the point of execution, especially in Muslim countries.
To be a follower of Yeshua, however, means we follow His example.
We will look at a few ways that Yeshua handled Himself in all circumstances, including rejection so that He could declare, “I have overcome the world.” We can victoriously do the same.
Yeshua Was Rejected in His Own Hometown
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)
Imagine your neighbors, school buddies, teachers, or leaders disliking you so much that they want you dead. What would you do? How would it affect the rest of your life?
This happened to Yeshua in the synagogue of Nazareth, the town in which He was raised.
After declaring to the people that He has come as the Messiah, He said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” (Matthew 13:57)
Even though He merely quoted Scripture, the people took serious offense at what He said, led Him to a cliff, and tried to throw Him off.
How did Yeshua handle it?
“He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.” (Luke 4:30)
Yeshua already understood from Bible prophecy that He would not be accepted in Nazareth. Knowing the rejection He would face, He preached there anyway. Why not? He had the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and a destiny to fulfill. So do we.
Moreover, Yeshua placed His fear and faith in the God of Israel, not man. So must we.
Likewise, not everyone will like us or accept our message, but with our focus rightly placed on fulfilling our destinies as ambassadors of the Most High God, we can overcome the fear of men and the sting of rejection.
Through hearing our testimony and witnessing our consecrated life, both Jews and Gentiles will come to faith just as in Yeshua’s day.
The Religious Leaders Slandered Yeshua
One of the words for “slander” in Greek is diabolos from which we get “diabolic” and “the devil.”
That is exactly what the leaders at the time accused Yeshua of being. They said that Yeshua, “casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” (Matthew 12:24)
Numerous churches and denominations today reject Believers who operate in the resurrection power of Yeshua — giving words of knowledge, healing the sick, setting the captive free, and other supernatural manifestations — as being from Satan.
What did Yeshua do when he was wrongfully accused?
He remained confident in His identity, revealed the flaw in their reasoning, and rebuked them:
“If I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? … I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:27, 36–37)
Yeshua simply responded with the truth and moved on. So can we.
Yeshua’s Friend Betrays Him
“The betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man. Seize Him and lead Him away under guard.’ And when [Judas] came, he went up to Him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ And he kissed Him. And they laid hands on Him and seized Him.” (Mark 14:44–46)
Perhaps just as hurtful as the slander of a spiritual leader is the betrayal of a trusted friend, like Judas, who sold Yeshua to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver (perhaps half a year’s pay).
How did Yeshua respond to the betrayal of His friend?
He understood that “all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” (Matthew 26:56)
Each of us has a destiny, and it is likely that at some point a betrayal will occur as we move forward.
And although such betrayals cause us the most intense agony, we have the choice to respond with faith or fear. If we choose faith, we can be assured that Adonai can use such a trial for our benefit.
We can choose to let betrayal destroy us or allow it to refine our spirits into the likeness of Yeshua, so we can learn to respond as He would.
Yeshua Was Rejected for Choosing Jerusalem
On a trip to Jerusalem shortly before His execution, Yeshua chose to travel through the cities of the Samaritans, a people who rejected Jerusalem as the proper location for the Holy Temple.
He sent some of His disciples ahead to make preparation for Yeshua. When He arrived, the Samaritans of the town rejected Him because He was on His way to Jerusalem.
James and John asked Yeshua: “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54)
Rather than get even, Yeshua rebuked His disciples saying, “You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (verses 55–56)
Yeshua chose to simply ignore the town’s affront and take another route.
Like many of us are tempted to do when we know the other person offending us is in the wrong, the talmidim responded to their rejection with anger and judgment.
But the mercy of Yeshua triumphs over judgment. He came to seek and save the lost, not to destroy them and He asks us to do the same, even in others’ rejection of us.
Ultimately, all those who refuse to receive Him “will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
Still, “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Until the final judgment, God continues to reach out to those who reject Him.
And it’s God’s desire that all come to the truth of who Yeshua is and be saved — even those who reject Him — and that can be our desire as well.
Yeshua Was Executed — But by Whom?
The ultimate form of rejection is a death sentence: it says, “You are not wanted in our society.”
And yet, that was the sentence Rome placed on Yeshua — at the urging of the religious elite, not the Jewish nation.
The chief priests and the Pharisees were afraid of a Roman backlash because of Yeshua.
Recognizing how well the Jewish People responded to Yeshua, the chief priests told the Sanhedrin Court, “If we let Him go on like this [raising the dead], everyone will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” (John 11:48)
The Jewish court feared that acceptance of Yeshua would make the Jewish nation suspect in the eyes of the Romans, since many believed that He had come to supplant the Roman government and establish His own Kingdom.
Although such an action is legitimate for the Jewish Messiah, and will in fact happen at the Second Coming, Yeshua actually said His Kingdom began in the hearts of His followers: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)
Some of the priests and members of the Sanhedrin chose to deny Yeshua so they could keep their positions of authority.
Caiaphas, the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest), responded to their fear of loss with a prophetic utterance:
“‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’ He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” (John 11:49–53)
Seven hundred years earlier, the Prophet Isaiah foretold something similar:
“It was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt [asham). … He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:10, 12)
Many millennia before Isaiah, however, God initiated His plan for the salvation of the world through the execution of Yeshua. In the Garden of Eden, God told Satan:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
That seed that would bruise the head of Satan is the Messiah. How would He do that? By becoming the final guilt offering (asham) for all humankind (Isaiah 53:10).
Though Yeshua was misunderstood, hated, slandered, betrayed, and executed by some important men of His day, we see that He kept His focus on doing the will of the God of Israel and never retaliated against anyone for their rejection, and neither should we.
However, this does not mean that God wants us to stay in abusive relationships or to trust those who cannot be trusted.
After Yeshua explains the joy of a good shepherd in finding one lost sheep, He then outlines specific steps to follow in Matthew 18:15–17 when a spiritual brother or sister has sinned against us.
When we follow these steps and no resolution comes, then we are called to break fellowship while we still keep the door open for the possibility of future repentance and reconciliation, because that is always the heart of Yeshua, our Good Shepherd.
Accepting Others As Yeshua Does
Since we each know how deeply wounding rejection can be, it is our responsibility to not wound others — to accept and not reject them — to love them.
Rochel Spangenthal, writing for the Aish website tells us the story of what the father of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Chassidic Jewish movement) said before he died:
“Fear nothing but God alone. Love every single Jew, without exception, with the full depth of your heart and with the fire of your soul, no matter who he is or how he behaves.” We are to see every person as a child of God and as being entitled to our respect. Each has a soul and a special calling that is only their’s.
As God calls us in spite of our flaws, we must reach out to others in theirs. We must not look for the possibility of their rejecting us and, even if they do, we can be assured that God accepts and loves us, regardless.
Of course, feeling accepted by God is difficult when we feel rejected by others. But our feelings don’t necessarily reflect the truth of how God feels about us.
Feeling Rejected by God
“To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33)
While we work on loving others as Yeshua does, we must also work on loving ourselves as our Father in Heaven has already done.
Too often we consider the rejection from others, especially from those in our spiritual community, to be a rejection by God Himself. That belief kills our fruitfulness on earth, a false destiny Satan is rallying for.
To replace this false destiny of Satan with the destiny God has for us, we must recognize that God is looking for those who are pure of heart and zealous toward Him, as He did with King David.
As Joyce Meyer teaches,
“People usually love you based on your performance. If you do what they want you to do, they accept you; but if you don’t, they reject you. This is the operation of human love, and none of us know how to do anything else until we taste God’s agape [chesed] love that’s not based on man’s performance but is based only on God.”
Our covenant with God guarantees His love for us. It is unconditional. Moreover, He does not seek those who are perfect as the world counts perfection but those “whose heart is perfect toward Him.”
When we need help overcoming rejection from the world, we must look to Yeshua. Just as prophesied about Him, He is the One who understands our pain the most, and He will definitely help in our time of need:
“Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)