“Then all the disciples forsook him and fled”. Matthew 26:56 ESV
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, every one of his disciples abandoned him.
Even after three years of walking the same road, sharing countless meals and hearing life-changing words spoken directly to them.
After Jesus invited them to share in his miracle-working, world-transforming mission.
After he freely offered them hope for each day and eternal life in his kingdom.
After he was patient with their short-comings, ignorance and unbelief.
After they promised never to leave. They all did just that. They ran away to protect themselves, leaving their teacher, friend and savior behind.
But being rejected by his friends at that harrowing moment didn’t deter the Lord one bit.
Jesus Knew What Was Coming and Didn’t Flinch
Jesus wasn’t deterred because he was prepared. We see this in Mark 14:27-31:
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. (Mark 14:27-31 ESV)
Their spirits were willing, but their flesh was weak (Matthew 26:41). You know the story. Peter follows Jesus as he is questioned about being a follower. But he emphatically denies even knowing him. He couldn’t even admit his association with Jesus to a lowly servant girl.
We have all denied Jesus in one way or another, and it is painful when we realize what we have done. We choose temporary human acceptance over God’s everlasting acceptance over and over. We are insecure and ashamed.
But let’s not get into that right now. Instead, let’s camp out on what Jesus did when frail humans like us preserved themselves and abandoned him.
Long before he prayed in Gethsemane for the last time, Jesus had prepared himself to be all alone with his pain on the night he was betrayed.
Yes, he chided Peter, James and John for not being able to stay awake and pray with him for a while as he agonized over his upcoming death. But even though he wanted their support as he prayed, he was never dependent on it.
Jesus knew what was in man (John 2:24) and he knew better than to entrust himself to them. He also knew from the beginning who would betray him (John 6:64).
But none of his foreknowledge about Peter or Judas or anyone who turned away from him changed how he lived his life or how he carried out his mission. He wouldn’t let it.
Standing Strong in Spite of Rejection
in John 8:28-29 during a conversation with the Pharisees, we find out how Jesus was able to stay strong during his time of greatest need, despite the massive rejection all the disciples.
28 So, Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”
We can glean these three nuggets from those two verses:
- What Jesus came to do was God’s idea, not his own.
- Jesus carried out his mission just the way he was taught by his Father.
- Jesus was never alone or abandoned because his Father was always with him.
When we are rejected, abandoned or betrayed by people who are supposed to love us, we can follow the example of Jesus. We can stand secure not letting mistreatment by others get us off track.
If we implement these 3 keys, no one can stop us from being and doing everything God has planned for us.
3 Keys to Conquer Rejection
- Remember that God has called you for a unique purpose and mission. (Ephesians 2:10)
- Rejoice that he gives you his Word and Spirit to guide you every step of the way. (John 14:26)
- Rest assured that your Father will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5-6)
In our darkest hour, we have hope. The coming of a bright dawn is inevitable. It may be dark on Friday, but Sunday’s coming!