Rejection at Christmastime

tim_savage_christmasWhen the prophet Isaiah predicted the arrival of the Christmas child, he did so in chilling terms: the child would be ‘despised and rejected by men’ (Isaiah 53:3).

What a cruel fate, especially in a world where people care so much what others think of them – to be despised and rejected by men!

What was it about Jesus that would arouse such disdain?

Isaiah provides a few clues: ‘his appearance would be marred beyond human semblance’ (52:14); ‘he would bear no stately form or beauty that we should look at him’ (53:2).

So was it his outward appearance that would prompt public reproach? Were his visible features genetically unsightly?

Not at all!

What was so unappealing about Jesus was nothing superficial, but rather a deep-seated conviction. He was intensely opposed to what had become of humanity.

Jesus rejected the pattern of each person ‘turning to his own way’ (53:6), of each person deifying his own desires . . . doing what he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted, where he wanted, with whom he wanted.

In short, Jesus rejected human self-centeredness.

By doing so, he posed a mortal threat to the customary way humans lived their lives. And not surprisingly, humans struck back, as they always do when facing a mortal threat. They rejected Jesus.

This is an important insight: it was because Jesus rejected what humanity had become that humanity rejected him.

However, it ought to have been the reverse – his rejection, far from provoking a rejection in kind, ought to have inspired ‘happiness’, ‘comfort’, and ‘singing for joy’ (52:7-9), for the simple reason that he was refusing to accept things as they had become but was instead saying: ‘Enough is enough! I reject the condition of humanity.

I reject the wreckage of people going their own way.

I reject exploitation and greed.

I reject divorce and war.

I reject poverty.

I reject disease.

I reject sexual immorality.

I reject suffering children.

I reject hunger.

I reject disappointment and despair and depression.

I reject paralyzing addictions.

I reject the defilement of God’s image in human beings!’

Because of the One who rejects what we had become, we can sing for joy.

Because Jesus consented to lie helplessly in a cattle’s trough, rejecting human notions of beauty and majesty, and because he would later ascend to a criminal’s cross, rejected by those who took exception to his rejection of their feeble attempts at being human, we can sing for joy.

By this twofold rejection – his of what humans had become and humans of his refusal to accept what they had become – he would win our salvation, a salvation from all that ails humanity.

What a Savior!

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