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Jesus: Rejection / Persecution


Many prophets before Jesus, and he himself, experienced rejection and persecution from the people. So, Jesus warned similar denunciation that his forerunners might experience so they would not get disappointed when that happens. The main reason for the denial was that people did not want to change their sinful life. They prefer material benefits and worldly achievements, for which, people break their covenant with God and hurt other humans through injustice and exploitation. While healing the sick, the disciples insisted on avoiding such a sinful life for the sake of the kingdom of God. That was a message most unwelcome to those living in sin!

Jesus experienced rejection from towns and villages, such as:

1. The people in Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, were the first to reject Jesus during his public ministry. While he preached in their synagogue, “they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away” (Lk 4:28-30).

2. When Jesus healed two demoniacs at Gadarene, the demons entered a herd of swine there. “The whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned.” “Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district” (Mt 8:34).

3. On his way from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jesus was determined to journey through Samaria. He sent messengers ahead of him who entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there. They denied welcoming Jesus because his destination was Jerusalem. Though James and John proposed to destroy the village by calling down fire from heaven, Jesus rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village (Lk 9:51-56).

4. Jesus lamented the impending destruction of Jerusalem because it rejected the Messiah. He said, “They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Lk 19:41-44).

5. Jesus reproached the unrepented towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, where most of his mighty deeds had been done. He said Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would be more tolerable on the day of judgement than these towns (Mt 11:20-24).

Those who rejected the emissaries of God rejected the message and the one who sent them. The reason was they did not want to change their sinful life. By their unwillingness to repent and accept the teachings of Jesus, they assumed their own eternal destruction. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him” (Jn 3:36). Jesus told the disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (Lk 10:16). If the townsmen reject the disciples, they should go to the marketplace where all people gather for shopping and leisure, to let the people see their symbolic demonstration.

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