These days there seems to be a lot of disgruntlement with our country’s leaders.  Not a single day goes by without some sort of media or public outcry against the elected rulers of our country.  Our president seems to be particularly in the firing line.  We should certainly pray for our leaders as the Bible calls us to do.

Without commenting on the validity or otherwise of the disgruntled voices, the rejection of the president pales into insignificance compared to the level of rejection Jesus endured on that first Good Friday.

The Jesus of the Bible is not welcome in this world, he is a rejected Leader, but for a completely different set of reasons. Mark 15 gives a thorough picture of who rejects Jesus.

Firstly Jesus was rejected by Religious Leaders

The Religious leaders, ironically, were not the ones who welcomed Jesus with open arms. At best it was suspicion. . . at its worst it was murder. Just look at who the ringleaders are in the plot to kill Jesus.
Mark 15:1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole Council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate.

These are the priests and bishops of the first century. They were at the very core of the plot. Throughout the Gospels you see them conspiring against Jesus. They talk against him, plot together to arrest him and pay off Judas to betray him. They Orchestrated a trial at the most opportune time, and manipulated the fickle crowds to call for his crucifixion.

Religion so often falls on the wrong side of Jesus. The very ones who should have recognized and worshipped Him. Reject and kill Him. Why? Because Jesus gets in the way of human religion.

He does not play the game. He doesn’t do pomp and ceremony, hierarchy and church politics. He makes religious people uncomfortable. He has dinner with criminals and turns down high society invitations. He gives no audience to the high priest, but lets prostitutes kiss his feet. He does not visit the homes of the rich and famous, but sits in the dust with the homeless. Jesus is more at home in an informal settlement than in a palace.

Good, fine, decent upstanding religious people do not like that. They want a pliable Jesus, a quiet Jesus, a manageable Jesus. A Jesus who ticks off your good deeds and ignores your bad ones. A Jesus who helps keep things as they are. Does not rock the boat. Does not put his finger on our hypocrisy, selfishness, racism, greed, ignorance of the poor.

Jesus makes religious people uncomfortable – he’s far too real for us – that is why The real Jesus is an unwelcome guest at many church services. Even today.

If Jesus came to earth today it would be priests and pastors who would crucify him And the United Nations and the world bank would gladly pay for and supply the nails

Secondly Jesus was rejected by Worldly Leaders

Pilate is no hero on Good Friday. Some movies portray him as someone who tried to save Jesus. But really the only person he wanted to save was himself. He was selfish and brutal. He was not compassionate at all – in the end he was a typical politician.

He needed the crowds favour to stay in power. So He gave the people what they wanted.

MK 15:15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Barabbas, a political prisoner who murdered someone in a failed rebellion, is preferred by the crowd to Jesus. On the day when amnesty is given to one prisoner – they literally say, ‘anyone but Jesus’

The people’s wishes sway political and worldly leaders. And no political leaders of the day stepped in to save Jesus. Not Pilate, Not King Herod, nobody.

This still holds true today. It is virtually impossible to be a Christian leader on the world’s stage today. the whole system runs contrary to Christ’s call, not according to it.

But its not just the Priests and Politicians who reject Jesus. It’s the people too. All the people.

Thirdly Jesus was  Rejected by Jews

Mar 15:6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.

7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.”

The fickle crowd. Many of this crowd would have been the same people who only a week ago were welcoming Jesus into the city waving palms and shouting ‘hail the Messiah’. Now they shout ‘crucify him, crucify him’. The king of Israel, rejected by his own subjects.

he came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” John 1:11

Why? He didn’t do what they wanted him to do. Make more free bread. Heal their illnesses. Drive out the Romans.

The selfish follower of Jesus – will quickly turn against Jesus when he doesn’t give us what we want. Didn’t make me rich. Didn’t heal my cancer. Didn’t give me the job. Didn’t help me pass the exam

He’s a lucky charm Jesus, not the real Jesus. I meet many people who claim to be Christian, but its clear they don’t follow the Jesus of the Bible. They have a puppy dog Jesus. A Jesus on a leash. “‘Oh I’ve got my little domesticated Jesus, here to do my bidding’ fetch !”

When you come to Christ. You follow Jesus, He does not follow you

You would be surprised how many people get that wrong. And of course, Jesus is rejected not just by the Jews, but by the Gentiles too.

Fourthly Jesus was rejected by Gentiles

A terrible travesty has been committed in centuries gone by, by many who claimed to be Christian calling Jews “Christ Killers”. The Gentiles were just as guilty as the Jews who rejected Jesus. You see it here with the Roman soldiers. No compassion on Jesus there.

MK 15:16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company [ battalion / cohort ] of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Peter says in Acts 2:23

“This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

you with the help of wicked / lawless men – lit. ‘those not having the law’ i.e. Gentiles” – Roman rulers and soldiers (Acts 2:23)

Jews and Gentiles rejected and crucified Jesus. And that is still the case. We don’t by nature receive Jesus – we reject Him. Jew and Gentile. Except for a miracle by God’s own intervention, we would never receive him.

And here’s the biggest shocker of all.

Fifthly Jesus was rejected by God

34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?“–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”n

And that certainly is what happened. Jesus on the cross – was abandoned by God – even more than that, he was stricken by Him. Punished by God . . . in our place. As the prophecy said:

ISA 53:4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. ISA 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. ISA 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

God, turned against His own Son, punished Him on the Cross – for OUR SIN. FOR THE SAKE OF THE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO REJECTED HIS SON.

Mar 15:38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

This means that God has opened the door for you to enter into a relationship with him – through the death of His Son. The way is open. God has not rejected you!

But . . . have you rejected Him.

That is the only rejection left, for you to reject what God did for you on the cross. And so the question that the Cross of Christ asks of you this Easter is will you reject or receive him?

Written by Bishop Glenn Lyons