This was a dreadfully painful self description because, not only was he feeling hated, but he is feeling it is unjustified.
Hundreds of years before, words were written about this same Jesus proclaiming he was “despised and rejected”.
These are strong words and I want to invite you to pause and think about the impact they had on the young Son of Man’s daily life. Remember he was 30 when he became a public figure. As his public profile grew so did the hatred.
I suggest to you that this hatred, coupled with the despising and rejection, was a huge factor in generating in him feelings which are also described in strong words. He was called “a man of sorrows” and “familiar with pain”. Or in another way “acquainted with grief”.
Then, as now, people hated hypocrites; they hated self-centred-ness or greed. They hated cheats, liars or thieves. They hated those who hoarded dishonestly acquired wealth. They hated bullies or those who harmed them. Try looking around you and reflecting on what you hate.
As for me I get frustrated when people inflict unnecessary pain on others. I find lack of listening or social injustice irritates me. My list could be very long.
But the Son of Man would not be on it. Nor, I suggest, on most lists. He was not unjustly wealthy, self-centred or greedy. In fact he served others, healed, encouraged and strengthened. He treated all fairly and was honest, open and transparent. If you had to use one word he was “loving”.
Over the next pieces I’m going to identify the roots of hatred he experienced, but for now and this week I will give you 2 closing thoughts.
First, if they hated him they will hate his followers. That’s not my idea, he himself said so.
We, as his followers, often say we want to be more like him. Well do you want to be more like him in being hated this week? It doesn’t appeal but he has warned us not to be surprised.
Second, and vital, they hated him for no reason. Part of our calling is to give no reason for him to be hated.
Our challenge is this. Sometimes you can be hated for being a follower of Jesus and sometimes you can be hated for distorting what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Watch out for the hypocrisy which provokes hatred. Your working practices this week need to be empowered by the same Spirit that empowered the Son of Man, not driven by the spirits that generate hatred. It is counterproductive to claim to follow a loving leader but act as a bully. It is irresponsible to follow a servant but act out of selfish ambition.
Following an honest, transparent, just and courageous leader does not sit well with lying, deception, unfairness and fear. That will provoke hatred and it will have reason.
Now I have given you reasons for guilt please remember that following him is not about trying ever so hard to be like him. Following him means realising that you can’t be like him unless he does his work in you. It’s his Spirit that teaches you from the inside.
When that happens you will give no reason for him to be hated. It will still come your way and it will still hurt, but it will show you are genuine and not fake as was he.
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