Growing up I always wrestled with insecurities. Never the coolest or most popular kid in school, I often felt alone. To this day, although God has given me great friends who love and care about me, from time to time I still can struggle with feeling different, marginalized, and rejected.
One of the passages I always find myself returning to when I’m feeling this way is Isaiah 53. Speaking of the suffering servant, and anticipating Christ, verses 3-5 say,
“3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
The first thing I’m reminded of when I come to these verses is that Jesus was rejected like us when he was on earth. Verse 3 shows us that, just like us, Jesus also experienced the pain of being ignored, overlooked, and even hated. Whenever we’re experiencing the sorrow of being let down by friends, disregarded by people we meet, mocked for our Christian faith, or even abused by members of our own families, Jesus understands. The New Testament is filled with accounts of how Jesus suffered these adversities just like we do. He can relate to our pain more than we know, He grieves alongside us, and He cares about us even when we feel discounted or discarded.
Isaiah also points us to how Jesus was rejected by us. The very people that God came to identify with, were the ones who reviled, accused, and executed Him. Isaiah writes, “We esteemed him not.” While we may not have been the ones to put the nails in His hands, don’t we ignore and reject God in our daily lives all the same? Don’t we worship a thousand things before we worship Him? Don’t we distrust and take advantage of Him? Don’t we live as if He is dead, rather than alive?
Although we are the ones who reject God, our passage gives us astonishing hope. He was also rejected instead of us. We all have abandoned and rebelled against God, and so we deserve His punishment. But God gave us Jesus in love. On the cross, He was rejected by God in our place. He was crucified for our sins. Verse 4 tells us that He was pierced, crushed, and punished to bring us peace. If we reject God and don’t turn to Christ to receive His forgiveness, He will one day hold us responsible for our choices. But God sent Christ to save us from ourselves. He was separated from his Father so that those who would believe in Him and follow Him would never have to be.
The rejection that Christ experienced by His people and His Father was for us. We discarded our Creator, but He sent us his Son to experience our hurts and bear our sorrow so that He could sympathize with us. We ridiculed and murdered the King of glory, but He willingly took on our death sentence Himself to give us the ultimate acceptance and love we could ever know. See the great love of God! When you feel abandoned, look to the crucified Christ with faith and know that God abandoned Him, so that he would never abandon you.
This extraordinary truth is not just a magic pill to swallow that will make the pains of life suddenly go away. In fact Jesus promises His followers that rejection will still come to us all. It will still hurt. It will still sting. But the good news of Jesus Christ is that if we trust in Him, we can be forgiven, loved, and accepted by God Himself. The gospel frees us to take risks and bold steps of faith without having to fear rejection. When we do experience rejection, we’re freed to not have to be defined or destroyed by it. Christ is rejected with us. We can therefore learn to find comfort and strength in the fact that Jesus understands, includes us in His family together, and will never leave us because of our Father’s unwavering love.