The Gospel of Feb. 5, Mark 6: 1-6, is a fascinating one. It recounts Jesus’ attempts to teach in his own town. The effort didn’t go well. The Nazareth locals, many of them probably related to him in this small village, rejected him. They questioned his credentials, if you will, to speak in the synagogue. Jesus’ reaction to this less than hospitable reception has rung down through the ages. He said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
The passage goes on to say that Jesus was amazed at the Nazarenes’’ unbelief. Amazed? I think Mark might have understated his reaction. Jesus must have been terribly hurt to be rejected by his own kith and kin. We forget that the Jesus in his human nature experienced the same emotions, the same sensitivities that we do. He wasn’t pretending.
Throughout his mission, Jesus ran into rejection. He died a seeming failure, abandoned by his own apostles with his mission in ruins. How did that feel? And he did experience the pain of being deserted. It probably was worse than physical pain he suffered. Of course, he trusted in his Father but it still hurt.
Rejection is something everyone experiences at one time or another. A manuscript gets a rejection slip from a publisher. A great idea is met with derision. An employee gets a tepid performance review from a supervisor. A romance is ended by the other person. An advocate for a marginalized group gets trashed on line. A seemingly supportive friend disappears. A parent is deserted by an angry child…or vice versa.
Our church, our nation and our world are filled with people being rejected for one reason or another. It is a comfort to remember that Jesus understands the pain of rejection because he experienced it himself. Really.