There are many stories about tragic rejection, especially in marriages. One of the ugly ones was a true-life story about a lady who walked away on her wedding day. In short, she didn’t show up at all, and all the efforts to reach her failed. As a result, the groom who courted her for over thirteen years was embarrassed and devastated while waiting in vain at the venue of the scheduled wedding.
After two days, pictures of the lady having an oceanside honeymoon with a famous, wealthy man showed up in the evening tabloids. But there was a sadder side of the event. The rich new man drowned in the ocean while surfing without straps at the end of their weeklong honeymoon.
The ending part of the story is the most astonishing. The lady returns to the first man begging for forgiveness, and the man accepts: “my love is real; it has been through the test, and you can trust me for life,” he said. They married after and told this story themselves as an elderly couple with grandchildren.
The Rejection at Nazareth
Rejection is usually a painful experience. It is, however, more painful when it comes from close relations and when the intentions are genuine and selfless. This was the experience of Jesus in his hometown, Nazareth.
Nazareth was not mentioned in the Old Testament and could have been insignificant. In fact, Nathanael asked, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Matthew first noted that it was the place the family of Jesus took up residence after returning from Egypt (Matthew 2: 23), while Luke (1:26) tells us that it is the hometown of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Later in the Gospels, Mark and Luke would tell us that Nazareth was the hometown or the place Jesus grew up (Mark 6:1; Luke 4:16). Recall the ancestry of Jesus is traced to the tribe of Judah, the home of Joseph, the father of Jesus. So, we could say that Joseph lived as a tenant in Nazareth and there met Mary. After the birth of Jesus and upon returning from Egypt, they continued to live in Nazareth.
The Gospel (Luke 4:21-30) is a continuation of Jesus’ visit to Nazareth, where he read the passage from the prophecy of Isaiah about the mission of the Messiah and preached. Although initially, the people marveled at the gracious words from Jesus, the awe and admiration turned sour when they suddenly remembered that he was one of them (a Nazorean). His father, Joseph, was a local carpenter in Nazareth.
What followed was the epic rejection and ejection of Jesus from the town and a deadly plan to hurl him down the hill, but he amazingly passed through their midst unhurt.
The Rejection of Love: The redemptive mission of Christ on earth was a mission of love. John (3:16) tells us that God loved the world so much that he gave His only Son. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in turn, loved us and commanded us to love one another (John 13:34).
The rejection of Jesus at Nazareth was an outright rejection of God’s gift of love and the rejection of God. Imagine this, among all the towns in Israel; God decided to have His son reside in Nazareth. However, the Nazoreans could only see the son of Joseph, the carpenter.
In life, you cannot give what you don’t have. The Nazoreans lacked love, and they seemed to have accepted the general belief that nothing good can come from Nazareth. When you lack love, you will excel in hatred, which explains the plan to kill the concrete expression of God’s love, Jesus of Nazareth.
Beyond Rejection: Love does not die or fail: One can reject love, but true love can never die or fail. That was the point of St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians (12:31-13:1-13). Among other powerful qualities, St. Paul maintains that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and love never fails.
The rejection of love in Nazareth did not mark the end of God’s unfathomable love. Instead, we see Jesus walking away from those who wanted to hurt him; it was as they froze and could not lay a hand on him. The indication here is that love cannot be harmed or destroyed.
The experience of Jesus at Nazareth tells us that those who function within the ambiance of God’s love have the privilege of divine protection. The prophecy Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-5, 17-19) gives us this assurance where it says that God will make you “a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass. They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord”.
Moving forward, we need to seek after God’s love which will give us access to divine deliverance (Psalm 91:14). When the love of God is enough for you, the rejection of the world would mean nothing to you.
Notice that Jesus, though he walked away from Nazareth, he did not walk away from his mission. The passage following the event tells us that he went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, taught astounding on the Sabbath, and even healed a man with an unclean spirit. Wherever it truly exits, love continues to function no matter the challenges. Love proves itself under the strain of challenges.
God bless you, and have a blessed weekend and abundant blessings in the week ahead.