“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11)
It is amazing that Jesus was rejected by his own people. More precisely, he was rejected by the leadership of his own people. In the Gospels we see a raging war develop between Jesus and the religious leaders. The common people were caught in the middle and watched as the priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees tried to entrap and manipulate Jesus. Of course Jesus met their attempts every time and walked away in victory but they still tried to discredit him. Finally they resorted to corrupt justice to bring an end to the life of the Lord (Matthew 26:59-62).
The story does not end at Calvary but simply moves to an empty tomb not far away. Jesus would have the ultimate say in this conflict.
But why did the leaders of the Jews oppose Jesus so vigorously?
Peter is kind in Acts 3:17 when he says that the leaders acted in ignorance. The same thought is found in Acts 13:27 when Paul is speaking in Antioch of Pisidia. There Paul says they “did not recognize him” nor did they “understand the utterances of the prophets.” Paul even goes so far as to hint that the rulers could not know the truth of Jesus because their minds were closed (2 Corinthians 9:6-16).
Ignorance does not remove their responsibility. It only explains one of the reasons for their actions. Many today remain ignorant of God’s will. Some think they are quite a fine Bible scholar but actually know little more than what a preacher or human author has written. Solomon said that “study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) and he is right. But the value of dedicated Bible study is unspeakable. We would all do well to study more and come to know the mind of God.
The leadership in Jerusalem was jealous of Jesus. It is evident in their reaction to Jesus’ triumphant entry (Luke 19:39). From their perspective, Jesus represented a threat to their very comfortable lifestyles. He was encroaching on their turf. He was becoming the teacher the people were flocking to. At the same time, the Jews had grown increasingly unhappy with their leaders. The priesthood had been corrupted and was essentially controlled by Roman influence. Jesus had proven a fresh, cool wind blowing across the religious landscape.
We must all guard against jealousy. Sometimes a person may feel that his place within the congregation is threatened because someone comes in who may have similar talents or abilities. We may think they are overshadowing our long established position. Instead, let us rejoice that God has sent another worker our way.
Clearly, the leaders of Jerusalem didn’t like Jesus and rejected him. In the end the reason for their rejection doesn’t matter. When we rejected Jesus and his teachings, regardless of the reason, we find ourselves in the same position as the leaders in Judaism – lost. Let us accept Jesus in faith and passionately embrace him and his words.