WHY JESUS WAS REJECTED AND WALKED AWAY
“Please revive America, my Lord I pray, Please do not walk away and leave us to the consequences of our sinful choices.”
By: Frank G. Tunstall
The Apostle John said a “crowd” of people was in the temple courtyard at the time Jesus visited with the Greeks. Some in the crowd, probably egged on by their religious rulers, proceeded to open a conversation with Jesus that went like this: the Law says “the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?’” (John 12:34). [“Lifted up” was a first century synonym for “crucified.”]
What followed in this discussion gives the reasoning the religious leaders used to deny Jesus was the Son of God. That same mindset is persuasive with many people to this day, including many pulpits, particularly mainline pulpits. The observers’ question could have referred to Psalm 110:4: “The Lord [Yahweh] has sworn and will not change his mind. You [the Messiah] are a priest forever….”
Simply put, their argument was, How can Messiah be crucified and at the same time live forever?
What Israel’s religious leaders missed, of course, were the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the scriptures that foretold Messiah would come first to suffer and die. He would make the perfect sacrifice, and then be raised to immortal life. Jesus’ solution for saving the world included conquering death, the ultimate conquest, doing it without even owning a sword. He was determined to build a kingdom-of-the-heart, destroying death forever.
Jesus’ second advent will occur when He comes back to this earth to reign in His grandeur.
Obviously, it was deeply embedded in the national consciousness of first century Israel that Messiah when He came would never allow Himself to endure pain, and absolutely not the suffering and shame of crucifixion. Romans can kill us, the people reasoned, but they’ll never crucify our Messiah because “the Christ will remain forever.” The scribes, the teachers of the law, and the rabbis had not taught the people that Messiah would endure personal hurt, most probably because they did not believe it themselves; Messiah would conquer, not suffer! Hence, the Israelite public-at-large along with their teachers did not comprehend prophets like Isaiah. Specifically, Messiah would be “cut off” (a commonly accepted synonym for “killed”), and “assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death” (Isaiah 53:7-12).
How could Messiah possibly be assigned a grave, and at the same time “live forever?” How in the world could He be killed and then enjoy a portion with the great (Isaiah 53:12)? The answer, of course, is that it would be impossible – except for Jesus-the-Messiah’s resurrection. Messiah’s victory at the Hill of the Skull would “swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:7-8; see also Daniel 9:26 and Zechariah 12:10).
Amazingly, Jesus’ own teaching made these Jewish leaders even more certain Jesus was not the Messiah! They had absolutely no willingness to look inside their hearts and conclude they even might be wrong.
The foundation for this big lie – that Messiah could not suffer – goes back to Eden. Satan had said to Eve, You won’t die if you go ahead and do it your way, do what God said not to do (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:3-4). That lie – you can sin and get by – has deceived millions since. Cain, for example, was determined to offer a bloodless sacrifice and expected God to accept it. He was livid when God didn’t; so angry in fact he killed his own brother in a vain effort to punish God for rejecting his godless sacrifice. After Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, their son,Cain, made the choice to live the lifestyle of his parents. He chose to cling to the self-righteousness that says, I will do it my way because my way is better than God’s way!
Abel did gain favor with God with a portion of a lamb as his sacrifice. In Abel’s case though, a blood sacrifice [blood atonement] cost him his own blood at the hands of his own brother who murdered him. Abel died because he made the sacrifice God’s way. Abel actually became the sacrifice and a type of the Messiah who was to come. From the beginning, therefore, these two have been in conflict: shall I live by God’s way or my way?
Jesus’ detractors believed in blood atonement when lambs were doing the bleeding. They accepted animals could die for peoples’ sins, but not the Messiah.
The heart of the gospel is that the Messiah came from God in an incarnation, conceived by the Holy Spirit without a sexual union, to heal the problem of sin in the hearts of all mankind. The problem is so very serious the antidote required the sacrifice of God’s Son on a cruel cross – a perfect blood sacrifice. On that cross He drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin, and cured the malady with His own precious blood. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
Peter was certainly of this mindset when he rebuked Jesus as Caesarea Philippi. If Peter believed Messiah could not suffer, one can be sure the other disciples did too, and many more Israelites like them (Matthew 16:22-23).
The Apostle Paul some twenty-five years after Jesus’ resurrection spoke emphatically to this false teaching. “The message of the cross,” he said, “is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The Greek word for foolishness here is the word from which we get the English word moron. They were accusing Jesus of being a stupid fool because of what He was teaching.
In the twisted mindset of first century Judaism, the fact that Jesus was saying He would be arrested, tried, convicted and crucified was proof positive He was not the Messiah, because such a horrendous thing simply could not happen. Hence, the cross of Jesus itself became a scandalous stumbling block to the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:23). Messiah will be a conqueror; Rome will never make Him bend His knee before Caesar. Not Him!
Reasoning like this caused these spiritual leaders to ask, “Who is this Son of Man,” and they answered, “Jesus, you can’t be the Messiah!”
Jesus did not respond in anger in the face of their rejection, but gave a brief teaching about the brevity of time before the light they were rejecting would go out. Then all of them truly would be in the dark (John 12:35-36). “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him” (John 12:37 NIV). If only they had vested their trust in Jesus, the Light of the world, while they had Him among them. Jesus would have made them “sons of light.” He also would have made their steps and their homeland safe. Abel would have been proud of Jesus’ determination to do it God’s way.
Israel’s father Abraham said “Yes!” to God on much less evidence. These onlookers had far greater knowledge and many more excellent reasons to say “Yes!” too, but instead, they said a loud “NO!” to Jesus (See Hebrews 11:8-13).
It is ironic that the rejected Savior was (and is today) the greatest conqueror of all time. He conquers the heart in a new birth, and His Kingdom is still advancing, but without swords and spears and daggers – or guns and bullets and bombs. Greeks did not view the cross of Jesus as either wise or intellectual. Romans believed so very strongly in their self-righteous system that Jesus’ vision to win the world without a sword was to them simply belly-laughing-stupid (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).
One of the scariest things I can imagine is when Jesus “walks away” and leaves us totally on our own, to live out the consequences of our choices (See Ezekiel 10:18-23; Matthew 23:37-39; Romans 1:24-32). This time the Lord walked away and hid from them (John 12:36). He knew their rejection was final and any further discussion would only be an argument.
This kind of thinking led Jesus straight to Calvary on a capital charge of blasphemy, by way of Caiaphas’ court.
Millions of people in America who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel, reject their need of a blood atonement. They do so in large measure because the gospel of a suffering Savior is totally absent from many pulpits in the land, and largely absent in lots of others. Cain would be very proud.
Yes, “judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begins at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17 KJV).
“Please intervene for America, my Lord I pray, and revive us again. Please do not walk away leave us to the consequences of our choices” (Romans 1:24-32).
All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain
Who has born all our sin and has cleansed every stain.
Hallelujah, Thine the glory,
Hallelujah, Thine the glory’
Revive us again.
By: William Mackay