20 March 2008


In MATTHEW 11:28 (NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) Jesus says, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Jesus didn’t say, “Come unto Me all you who are wise or wealthy or worthy.” He said, Come unto Me, all you who are weary.

Or remember when Jesus said in MATTHEW 9:12
(NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE), I haven’t come for the well, but for the sick.

(NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) the Apostle Paul says, Are there any among you who are wise? [implying that “no, there is not”] but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong …

Our God is in the business of choosing down-and-outers – people who’ve known rejection … and then He gets busy about transforming them from death into life. And this isn’t just some new plan God started using when Jesus came to earth. God has always used this method. It’s the same method God used in The Old Testament when He came to David in the wilderness and gave him some good, true, righteous men to stand and fight at his side. Listen to the description of who these God brought alongside David ...

(NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) ... Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was disoriented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.

Distressed, in debt and disoriented. Now that’s a great resume! Do any of those descriptions ring a bell from your own life, from your own experience, from your own choices?
Distressed, in debt and disoriented? And yet as this group of men followed David, they learned from him, they changed, and eventually they became a powerful, purposeful righteous band of brothers.

Or consider Jesus’ own disciples and His other followers. Three years before the cross came into the picture, Jesus asked this ragtag group of men and women to follow Him, and they weren’t exactly magna cum laude material. In JOHN 15:18
(NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) Jesus said to them … If the world hates and rejects you, you know that it has hated and rejected Me before it hated you.

And in the final hours of His life … when Jesus hung on the cross for you and for me, He was rejected, despised and forsaken. And nobody who’s ever walked this world has known the kind of rejection Jesus knew that day.

As Jesus went through the last days and hours leading up to the cross … and as the crown of thorns was forced down onto His head … and as He hung, nearly naked on the cross of Calvary … He experienced a gut-wrenching kind of rejection.
  • Jesus was alone as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest.
  • Jesus was alone before Caiaphas the High Priest.
  • Jesus was alone when He stood before Pilate and Herod.
  • Jesus was alone as He was nailed to the cross.
  • And ultimately, as Jesus tried to breathe, His body heaving up and down, and up and down on the cross, He was abandoned by His Father.
The Apostle Paul wrote in … SECOND CORINTHIANS 5:21 (NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) God made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

And when that happened, when Jesus became sin, God the Father had to look away from Him, reject Him, and abandon Him. Maybe you’ve felt some of the rejection Jesus felt on the days leading up to the cross and as He hung there on the cross.

Maybe you’ve felt alone … Maybe you can relate to Jesus in the Garden that night … maybe you’ve prayed prayers that didn’t seem to get out of the room, let alone make it all the way to God. Maybe, while going through hard things, it’s felt like God has forgotten about you, that you weren’t on God’s radar, or that God didn’t even know you existed.

Maybe you’ve felt alone … Maybe friends have turned their backs on you. You thought they were loyal … real friends. But when you needed them most they were nowhere to be found, or even worse, maybe they turned against you.

Maybe you’ve felt alone … Maybe the church hasn’t been there for you like you thought it should, hoped it could, or prayed it would. Maybe that’s the reason it’s been hard for you to trust the church, or really get involved in the church – because somewhere in your past it’s let you down.

Maybe you’ve felt alone … Maybe the government or other people in authority over you haven’t given you a fair shake, haven’t really heard your side of the story, haven’t stood with you when you needed them to.

If you’ve felt rejected or forsaken by God sometime during your life, I want to tell you that you haven’t been. Because the truth of the matter is that nothing can separate you and me from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus.

ISAIAH 53:3a
(NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) says that He [Jesus Christ] was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Because of what Jesus went through during His thirty-three years here on earth, and during the last week of His life, and on the last hours when He hung on the cross … Believe me when I tell you that He is “acquainted with grief.” In other words, He can relate to our hurts, to our pains, to our hang-ups, to our sorrows, to our disappointments.

To the teenager who doesn’t know how to fit in … or where to fit in. Jesus says, “Because of the Cross I’m acquainted with that kind of sorrow, with that kind of pain.”

To the man or woman whose spouse walked out on them … or to the man or woman whose spouse cheated on them, breaking their vows and their trust … Jesus says, “Because of the Cross I’m acquainted with that kind of desertion.”

To the student who tried to get into a certain school but was rejected. To the guy who had his heart stomped on by the girl who he thought loved him. To the employee who heard the words, “We’re downsizing” … whatever it is, Jesus says, “Because of the Cross I know about grief … I know about rejection … I know about pain.”

Again, the Apostle Paul writes, this time to the believers in the town of Ephesus (which was in what is now modern-day Turkey) EPHESIANS 1:6
(NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) the praise of the glory of His [God the Father’s] grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [Jesus Christ].

The NEW KING JAMES VERSION of the Bible puts this verse this way … to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

In God’s WORD we read that we are …
  • The apple of God’s eye.
  • That we are the Bride of Christ.
  • That we are the Rose of Sharon.
  • That we are a Royal Priesthood, a Chosen People, and a Holy Nation.
This is who we are before God because of what happened on the Cross.

Chris Tomlin

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted … You were condemned.
I am alive and well … Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love … How can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love … I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You … In all I do, I honor You.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted … You were condemned.
I am alive and well … Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

You are my King
You are my King

God, thank You for Your willingness to send Your Son, Jesus Christ to the cross so that we can know You, be loved by You, and accepted by You. Thank you that in Jesus Christ, we are embraced by You. May the price Jesus paid on the cross drive our priorities deeper into Your heart. May the price Jesus paid on the cross convict us of shallow living, of half-hearted discipleship, of the cheapening of grace that we so easy participate in.

Thank You God for picking a "down and outer" like me. Today I choose to remember what You’ve done for me. What You alone could have done for me. And I thank You. And I embrace You. And I bow down before You. Amen.




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