Okay this is the finale for our “Misfits & Rejects” series, and I’ve saved the best for last. This person is the most rejected person in history. He could be in the misfit category as well only because he is not what people were expecting. But before I get to that person, I wanted to give you a list and brief summary of a few others that fall into this category. Despite their weaknesses and imperfections, they remained faithful to God. They stumbled, but they never gave up on their faith. These aren’t the only misfits in the Bible, but they are the names we recognize the most.
- Moses: Born a slave, becomes a prince, commits murder, and becomes a fugitive. He’s insecure, has a speech impediment, and is forbidden from entering the promised land because he loses his temper.
- Jacob: Lied and cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright.
- Gideon: Was afraid and insecure. Had a hard time trusting the Lord with the outcome of a battle, so he put the Lord through a series of tests to make sure.
- Samson: Was a muscle head, vain, and not exceptionally bright making poor decisions. His infatuation/love for Delilah leads to his downfall.
- Solomon: Was considered one of the wisest men who ever lived, but he had 700 wives and concubines. Adopted pagan practices of his wives. Was obsessed with wealth and power.
- Elijah: Struggle with anxiety and depression. Had a pity party even after his victorious confrontation with Jezebel.
- Jonah: Ran from God and put others in danger because of his disobedience. Didn’t really want Nineveh to be saved.
- Martha: Worried about everything.
- Thomas: Struggled with doubt.
- Peter: Denied Jesus three times. He was impetuous, hot headed, and didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.
- The Disciples: They all had issues and all of them abandoned Jesus after his arrest, except for John.
Okay, here it is. What we’ve all been waiting for. The most rejected person in history.
“2He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Isaiah 53:2-3 NIV
“He” in this passage is Jesus. “Hold on there a second John Robertson Morris! (That’s my name. It’s used when I’m in trouble). Jesus is a reject, a misfit?” According to this prophecy from Isaiah, “He”, the Messiah, Jesus, will be “despised, rejected, and held in low esteem”. Isaiah tells us in chapter 52 that “he” wasn’t anything to look at. He wasn’t handsome. People weren’t drawn to his physical appearance. Contrary to images that I grew up with and movies like the “Greatest Story Ever Told”, Jesus was not a blonde haired blue eyed “stud muffin”. He probably had dark hair and dark eyes. He looked just like everyone else in Israel at the time. He was middle eastern/Mediterranean.
Human beings are obsessed with appearance and power. We are drawn to famous, attractive, and powerful people. I’m guessing that God, who already knew that didn’t want people to get distracted by His looks or the package He was wrapped in. God wanted people to hear His message, to witness His miraculous power, and to experience His love and compassion.
Jesus didn’t look like a Messiah. He wasn’t born into royalty. He wasn’t an earthly king adorned in majestic tapestry. His human form was common, like the rest of us. His earthly father was a carpenter. He was born in a barn with animals. When we jokingly ask, “where you born in a barn?” Jesus would say, “yes, as a matter of fact I was”.
Jesus was from Nazareth. Remember when Nathaniel, a disciple of Jesus, asked “can anything good come from Nazareth?” Jesus was from the wrong side of the tracks. He wasn’t what the Jews were looking for in a Messiah. They wanted a zealot, extremist, and warrior who would conquer the Romans and run them out of town. They weren’t looking for a philosopher or a humble suffering servant.
Remember when Jesus was arrested and put on trial? Pontus Pilate couldn’t find anything wrong with what Jesus had done and wanted to release him. It was a custom during Passover for the Romans to release a prisoner, so Pilate asks the Jewish mob that had gathered “Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” The mob answered, “Give us Barabbas!” Barabbas had been arrested for a rebellious uprising against the Roman Empire. He was the warrior Messiah type the Jews were looking for. Jesus was rejected!
“13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
Jesus told us in John 14:16 that He is “the way, the truth, and the life ”. There was no other way or path to God the Father except through Him. His “way” or path leads through the “narrow gate” to salvation, and according to this passage there are a lot more who will reject Jesus’ path or way than accept it. Many prefer the wide gate because it’s easier. We get more of what we want from the wide path. People may respect Jesus for what he stood for, did, and said, but they pass on what is required to be His follower. You know that whole “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me” part from Luke 9:23. Human beings naturally don’t want to be denied anything. “We want it all and we want it now”, as the Queen song goes or we want it “our way” like Burger King.
Ok, maybe I’m being a bit overly dramatic. Not everyone is this blood thirsty to fulfill their desires or to be in complete control. There are people out there, whether they are Christians or not, that display incredible kindness and compassion. I believe it has something to do with being created in God’s image. Even if we don’t believe in God, His image is going to leak out subconsciously. Not everyone is willing to walk all over others to get what they want, but history proves that when push comes to shove humans are capable of almost anything.
7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 1 Peter 2:7-8 NIV
This “stone” or “cornerstone” is Jesus. To those who believe, Jesus is precious, but to those who don’t He is a stumbling block and a rock that makes them fall, In the King James Version of the Bible it says that this “stone”, Jesus, is the “rock of offense”. We are offended, tripped up, and caught off guard by the “message” of the Gospel. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep (obey) my commands”. (John 14:15 NIV) Obedience requires self-denial, submission, and surrender to a higher authority. Again, humans don’t like to be denied anything. We have difficulty submitting or surrendering our will to anyone. Jesus tells us in Mark 9:35 that if “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” This is counterintuitive to human nature past, present, and future.
Just to be clear, Jesus is not a reject or misfit because He did anything wrong. He was and is rejected because He did everything right, and calls us to holy living-obedience
“15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15 NIV
Jesus is our “high priest”. While He never sinned, He was tempted in every way, so He knows what we’re going through. He empathizes with our human condition, but He also wants us to overcome it through faith in Him, to be “holy as He is holy”. This is the “narrow path” that most don’t want to follow. It is grueling, exhausting, and costly.
Okay, before I end this series, I wanted to make sure I include myself in this list of misfits, which is no big shocker, but I didn’t want you to think I was one of those holier-than-thou/self-
Besides having a “broken and contrite heart” or being a person “after God’s own heart”, the main point of this series is that we’re not there yet, not even close, but we keep moving forward and pressing on towards the goal that God has called us to. That’s sanctification or the process of salvation that leads to holiness. Hebrews 11, the faith hall of fame, doesn’t say that Abel, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, and the rest lived perfectly. Like Paul, they hadn’t “taken hold of it yet”. It says that they lived “by faith”. Hebrews 11:13 says that “All these people were still living by faith when they died.” They never gave up. They kept moving forward and pressing on “by faith” till the very end. May we find the grace and strength to do the same.
Have a great weekend! Love y’all!
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC