Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What it’s Like to be Rejected – a “Loser”

We’ve all tasted rejection. However, some of us have lived under a blanket of shame – a constant sense, even a conviction, that we are “losers.” We feel hated by the world, and we consequently hate back. It’s a prison worse than bars and a ball and chain!

Jesus was the quintessential reject or “loser.” Luke reports that He was born “in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Although Mary’s husband Joseph came from Bethlehem, it seems that there were no family members to take them in. Perhaps, this was because it was plain to all that Jesus had been conceived out of wedlock. Although He had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, it appeared to everyone else that He was no more than a bastard.

To add to the shame and disgrace, His parents was virtually homeless, and Jesus had no other birthing place than a filthy animal manger. Our crèche scenes tend to make this setting seem idyllic. However, a manger was anything but that. It was generally covered with manure, thoughtlessly deposited as the animals ate from their manger. Of course, this environment also attracted all types of insect pests and their manure-eating larvae.

To add further to the shame, Joseph and Mary seemed to lack baby clothing. Perhaps they had expected to receive these from Joseph’s family? Consequently, they had to wrap the baby Jesus in strips of cloth they found in the manger.

Some commentators insist that these strips of cloth were actually used to wrap the dead. And perhaps they kept them in the mangers to keep them out of sight and out of mind. If this is the case, the symbolism is unmistakable. Jesus was born to die.

Meanwhile, an angel beckoned a troupe of lowly shepherds to visit the smelly manger and gave them a sign so that they would know that they came to the right place:

·        “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:12)

The shepherds needed some forewarning. It was inconceivable that the homeless parents they’d encounter in a smelly manger would be the parents of the Messiah, the Savior of the world and that the child nestled in filth would one day become their Savior.

Yet, there they found Him, just as the angel had promised. It was also too difficult for Joseph and Mary to believe that, out of such shameful circumstances, a Messiah would arise to save the world.

Instead of touching down in a palace before adoring kings, King Herod attempted to kill the Messiah. Instead of the reception He deserved, He was met with utter rejection. The family then had to flee to Egypt and eventually returned to Nazareth to face the music of an out-of-wedlock birth.

Why did not the Father prepare a glorious earthly welcome for His Son? As Savior, He was meant to be the lowest of the lowly – the ultimate reject. Why? So that all would be able to identify with Him! So no one could say, “You just don’t understand. You haven’t been through what I have.” Therefore Jesus could say:

·        “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29; NKJV)

Finding “rest for your souls” depended upon His being “gentle and lowly.” We have a mistaken idea that Jesus’ time hear on earth was like a vacation. However, Isaiah informs us that:

·        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)

His incarnation was no joy-ride. He was misunderstood and rejected even by His own people and family. Meanwhile, He had to live under the prospect of the worst death conceivable – a crucifixion. Nor was He able to just turn off the fear and pain. He even prayed to the Father that if there was any other way to accomplish the salvation of humanity, then He should spare Jesus the cross (Luke 22:42).

The cross was more than excruciating; it was also humiliating to the max. Jesus had been beaten to a bloody pulp and then stripped naked – the ultimate humiliation.

He did this for us. In my decades-long struggle with severe depression, feeling that I was the ultimate looser, I often wondered if God was a cosmic sadist, passively watching a freak show called “humanity.” That’s the way it felt to me. However, over the years, the life of my Messiah and His cross have become radiantly alive for me.

Jesus isn’t robotic, unfeeling or sadistic. He suffered humiliation, rejection, and death for me even though I had hated Him. If He was willing to suffer so much for us, He must really love us! He became a loser so that we might become winners. He experienced the worst humiliations so that we would be exalted.

In His death, He has set me free. Jesus offers us a new life and a dignity. At the least, shouldn’t we be willing to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)?

No comments:

Post a Comment