Rejection…oh, how it stings.
We don’t live long on this planet before encountering it. So many emotions come into play – pain, anger, disillusionment, loneliness, despair…
Jesus knew this pain well.
On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus shared an intimate meal with His closest earthly friends. Only two people in that room knew what was about to transpire. Judas, chosen as friend and disciple, would soon betray his Teacher into the hands of murderers. Jesus knew of Judas’ plans, yet He knelt and washed Judas’ feet. His dusty, dirty feet. Feet that would lead the killers to Jesus.
What an act of unheard-of grace.
Jesus knew He would also feel the ruthless pain of abandonment. Each of those beloved friends would run and hide during Jesus’ darkest hour. Except one – Peter would follow at a distance, but when questioned, he would deny even knowing his Friend.
Oh, how deep the pain of rejection.
Even so, Jesus spent the evening loving on His unfaithful friends (Jn 13:1). He washed each of their feet. He prepared them for difficulties to come and gave them promises to hold onto. And He prayed for them (Jn 17).
Jesus saw past His own pain to the needs of His friends.
He told Peter “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:31-32).
He knew that Peter would feel unusable, unforgivable. He would grieve the choice he had made. In rejecting Jesus, Peter’s own heart would break. But Jesus prayed that Peter wouldn’t stay in that dark place – that his faith would not die, but that he would turn back to his friendship with God.
Then Jesus went even further. He prayed for Peter’s ministry after God walked his heart through grace.
Yes, Peter would sin. He would choose self-preservation over faithfulness. He would break the heart of the One he’d pledged faithfulness to unto death (Lk 22:33). But God would bring good out of it and enable Peter to strengthen others as a result.
What beautiful grace radiates from this passage. Grace for the unworthy. Grace for the unfaithful. Grace for the one inflicting the pain. Grace poured out, even before they asked for it.
When I encountered this story a few days ago, God did a deep work in my heart.
This is rarely my response to rejection. I often feel defined by the one who hurt me. Many a time, my world has come crashing down when someone hurt me.
But Jesus did not allow the opinions or actions of others to define Him. He knew His identity and didn’t try to prove Himself or keep men’s approval. (See Phil 2:6-7.) He was free to love, to forgive and to extend grace.
O God, teach me to rest in Your approval. Renew my mind in who You say I am. Then enable me to pray for those who hurt me – for their faith, for their walk with You, for their future ministry.
What about you? How do you respond when faced with rejection? What difference does it make to be “accepted (by God) in the Beloved (Jesus)”? (See Eph 1:6, KJV.)