INDEX

John 6:60-71

We now start to see a new aspect to Jesus’ ministry. Up to this point, the majority of the people have been interested in the healings, the changing of water into wine, the feeding of mass numbers of people, the calming of a storm and walking on water. As He teaches this new message, people begin to recognise that following Jesus has a real price to pay.

Jesus' followers reject Him

He had a shocking message - to eat flesh and drink blood seemed cannibalistic. The religious leaders could not tolerate Jesus' statement because the law forbade drinking blood (Leviticus 17:10-11). Jesus was saying that His life had to become their own. They had to abide in Him daily in order to walk with Him, but they could not accept this concept. Many of Jesus' followers were offended and decided to leave. Why did His words cause so many to desert Him?

  • They may have realised that He wasn’t going to be the conquering Messiah-king they had expected.
  • He refused to give in to their self-centred requests.
  • He emphasised faith, not works.
  • His teachings were difficult to understand and some of His words were very offensive.

There is no middle ground with Jesus. When He asked the disciples if they would also leave, He was showing that they could choose to either accept or reject Him. Jesus was not trying to repel people with His teachings. He was simply telling the truth. Peter responded, “Where else can we go?” In his straightforward way, Peter answered for all of us - there is no other way. Jesus alone gives life.

The more the people heard Jesus’ real message, the more they divided into two camps: the honest seekers who wanted to understand more and those who rejected Jesus because they didn't like what they heard or get what they wanted.

Today, people look everywhere for eternal life and miss Jesus the only source. We must stay with Him, especially when we are confused or feel alone. As we grow in our faith, we may be tempted to turn away because Jesus’ lessons are hard, or because we don’t like Christians. Our response must not be to give up, ignore certain teachings or reject Christ. We need to ask God to show us what His teachings mean and how they apply to our lives. Then we must have the courage to act upon God’s truth and expect the Holy Spirit to help us.

The religious people reject Jesus

In response to Jesus’ message, some people left but others stayed and truly believed. Some, like Judas, stayed but tried to use Jesus for personal gain. Many today turn away from Christ. Others pretend to follow, going to church for social reasons, physical help or acceptance. But there are only two real responses to Jesus: you either accept Him or reject Him. Decide today why you are following Jesus and choose to be whole-hearted. Like Peter, say: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68,69)

John 7:1-31

Jesus' family reject Him

Yet again we see Jesus doing the will of His Father as quietly as possible. He had been discreet and tried hard not to stir up trouble, yet He had been rejected. This time it was His own family members who were rejecting Him and giving Him advice about how to run His ministry, even though they did not believe who He was or what He was doing. (John 7:5) The Jews did not want to excommunicate Jesus because they were afraid of the people, but they did reject His family and any people who chose to follow Him. There was also a small group of people who were looking for the right opportunity to kill Jesus.

Jesus was not put off His job by all this rejection. He did not change His message, neither did He compromise His speech nor modify His behaviour in any way.

Dealing with rejection

Firstly, let's deal with the question: “Could God reject us?” The apostle Paul says: “Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)

God never chooses to reject us (Hebrews 13:5); instead, we choose, while we are on this earth, to reject Him. He has very clearly laid out for us the way of salvation. It is purposely so simple that not one person could possibly miss it. The only way of missing it is by choosing to ignore it. (Luke 13:22-30, and Matthew 25:1-13)

If you decide to ignore God’s provision for you in the death of Jesus Christ as full payment for your sin, then God has no choice but to reject you when you come before His judgement seat. (Matthew 5:22,30; 10:28) You are not covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and you must remain outside God’s presence for eternity. This is hell: not just that you will die, but that you - an eternally living spirit - will remain separated from God for ever. Imagine being in torment and having the ability to remember over and over again all the opportunities you had to choose salvation. You will be forever out of God’s presence, thinking of reasons why you ignored those opportunities.

As Jesus has already taken every sin, sickness and disease on Himself on the cross, it is sheer lunacy not to accept the free gift of new life. Only then can we walk in the love, peace and joy that God provides for this life. It is vital that this is a "real" decision and not just a religious exercise - a decision of the heart. We have to allow God to take out our hearts of stone and give us hearts of love and obedience instead. (Ezekiel 36:26) Then we shall live as Jesus did: by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only through Jesus can we have a relationship with Almighty God and, through that intimacy, life.

Rejection comes in many different ways

  • From parents - through their circumstances or getting caught in the middle of parents.
  • From partners - a wrong relationship from the start, another person, or failing the test of time.
  • From children - deciding that they want their freedom and that they know better!
  • From jobs - interviewers preferring others to us; younger people being given promotion ahead of us.
  • From friends - condemning, judging, gossiping or becoming distant after being very close.
  • From people - going through changed circumstances; new people coming into their lives and replacing us.

To be rejected by someone is difficult to handle, but God has laid down very specific guidelines for surviving. We tend to see a person who comes against us as our enemy, but this need be only a temporary situation if we obey God's word and hold onto His promises.

When a man is trying to please God, God makes even his worst enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7) As Christians, we are commanded to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) Loving our enemies is one of the greatest marks of a transformed life and God has placed this instruction in both the Old and New Testaments. (Leviticus 19:18 and John 13:34-35)

Love in action

We can help our enemies in a practical way, where those outside God's kingdom would react in revenge. We have to give - through actions of kindness which are contrary to our natural reactions. However, when we are living in the Spirit, He will show us what to do and give us the grace to do it, as we respond in obedience. (Exodus 23:1-9)

We must love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) This usually has to be practical before it becomes emotional. Jesus didn't feel like going to the cross, but He was obedient out of love, even when we were His enemies. (Romans 5:10)

We must feed our enemies. (Romans 12:20; Proverbs 25:21-22) This, too, needs to be practical. We simply have to help provide for our enemies' daily needs. Our natural reaction tends to be: “But you just don't know what they have done to me.” Jesus knows exactly the hurt you feel and all the different emotions, yet still He says: “Bless your enemies and pray for them!” (Matthew 5:43-44)

Forgiveness

Father forgive these people, for they don't know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) This has got to be the prayer of our hearts, just as it was for Jesus. He promises that, when we have problems, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) We can call on the ever-present Holy Spirit to release His love and forgiveness towards our enemies and watch them become our friends. In this same way, we see Jesus’ brothers turn from being His enemies to becoming His ardent followers. (1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19; Acts 9:3-5)

Spiritual warfare

Never forget that our real enemy is Satan, not people. He is behind every attack against us, whether it comes through circumstances or direct intervention by people. (Ephesians 6:12) But, our God has defeated Satan and has given us a full set of armour with which to defend ourselves against him and to overcome him every time. (Ephesians 6:13–17)

Finally, read these scriptures:

Luke 6:27-36 - “Love your enemies! Do good to them! And don’t be concerned about the fact that they won't repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great. Truly be acting as sons of God: for He is kind to the ungrateful and to those who are very wicked.” (v.35)

Romans 12:20 - “Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be heaping coals of fire on his head.”

1 John 2:1-11 - “But whosoever loves his brother or sister is ‘walking in the light’ and can see the way without stumbling around in darkness and sin.”

Romans 8:37 - “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him who loved us.”

Revelation 12:11 - “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”


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