36 why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God’? After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world. 37 Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. 38 But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”
39 Once again they tried to arrest him, but he got away and left them. 40 He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile.
Because of Jesus' divine nature and power, it can be easy to gloss over the human aspect of his life on earth while reading the Scripture. Truth is, Jesus was fully God and also fully man. So while he was perfect in nature and will, this means when He experienced things like rejection and betrayal from the very people He came to save, He, like you and me, had to deal with His human emotions in a way that would honor his divine nature and call. There is no better example of this than the end of John 10. Here we see the religious leaders of the day, the ones who were supposed to be testifying and affirming the ministry of Jesus, working tirelessly to condemn and arrest Him to stop Him from revealing the Father. This had to be a heartbreaking experience for Jesus. For myself and many other pastors I know, the pain of being rejected and condemned by the very people you feel called to serve is a special kind of hurt that stings deep. If not dealt with quickly and continually, this pain from rejection can easily turn to bitterness that affects every other decision and relationship in our lives. I am sure that even if you're not in a ministry position, you could agree that being betrayed and rejected by people you love and trust is a special kind of hurt that affects every part of your mental and emotional state. No doubt, one of the worst parts of the sting of sin is being stabbed with the dagger of betrayal and rejection from people you love.
As Jesus models to us in John 10, what we do to deal with that feeling of rejection is what defines us in how we move forward with God. Like with everything else in life we get to choose how we respond. Many of us when rejected or betrayed double down on our efforts to prove ourselves to those around us. Imagine if Jesus took an “I’ll show you” approach to being rejected. What if Jesus started performing miracles to prove to His detractors He really was who He said He was? While it may seem and feel like a satisfying response, to “prove your haters wrong”, this would have been a sure fire way for Jesus to burn Himself out. As Jesus pointed out, if you don’t believe what He said, you could easily believe because of what He did. The important thing to remember is what He did was always and only in obedience to the Father. Never was it a tool to prove Himself to other people. If it was the other way around, His works would have been held hostage to what other people thought of Him. In essence, His desire to please others would have kept Him from truly being obedient to God. This is unacceptable. You can never truly serve or lead people that you need affirmation from. Seeking your affirmation from people you're called to love actually makes them your personal jailers. A jail in which they hold the key to your cell built by cheap flattery and affirmation that holds you captive.
Or another option would be to shut down emotionally. Could you imagine? “Fine if you're not going to receive me, then I am not going to do what I am called to do anymore, you're on your own!”. Thus stalling the plan of salvation for humanity that God the Father was offering through Jesus' life, while also revoking the glory and authority promised to Jesus at the Father's right hand. There is no quicker way to step outside of God’s plan for your life than to shut down emotionally because of the trauma of rejection. We can be eternally grateful that Jesus did not take this approach when dealing with His emotions and the pain of not having His divine love reciprocated.
Instead, Jesus did something all of us need to learn and embrace when dealing with rejection and betrayal by peers. He went back to Jordan where John the baptizer was baptizing before he was imprisoned. He went back to the place John baptized Him, Jesus, the one who would later baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire. Most importantly, He went back to the place where God the Father affirmed Him as His Son and commissioned Him into His call and life's work. It was the place where the Father marked His Sonship in such a way that could never be erased by the opinions of those He was called to lead and serve. I believe after this experience of rejection Jesus went back to Jordan to remind Himself that despite what people thought, He was the Father’s Son and the Father was pleased with Him regardless of what others thought.
This is the revelation that carries us and sustains us when those we serve reject us. Going back to the place of just being a son or daughter of God, remembering and enjoying the simple truth that He enjoys us. Until you learn to do this you will always be enslaved to the opinions of others. Your slavery will always prevent you from receiving the reward of freedom Jesus paid for you to have.
Of course, as Jesus modeled through the New Testament this is never a one time thing. Betrayal and rejection are one of the constant pains of this fallen world. So in response, we must make it a discipline to constantly go back to the Father; to be healed and reaffirmed in His love and identity that He has given us through Jesus. Like Jesus this is how we become an unstoppable force of love in the world. It will never be your responsibility to prove your detractors wrong. You will never have permission from God to shut down emotionally because others reject what He has called you to do. It is your responsibility to learn how to steal away time with Him so that you can be reaffirmed in the truth that only He can reveal to you.
A simple practice that I have learned over the years when I feel the weight of the opinions of others overcoming me… I stop what I am doing, and I say this, ”Father God, would you remind me how you think of me.”. That's all it takes for me, and I am recalibrated to the truth and the weight of man’s opinions fall off. His voice for me has become a cleansing shower that washes me from the mud that often comes from the voice of man and the world. I encourage you to discover this for yourself. My prayer for each of us is that the fire of God’s love would burn our identities in Him so deeply within us that all of hell would tremble in terror when we wake up each morning to accomplish the Father’s will through our lives.