“Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’” — Mark 12:10 (NLT)
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. — Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)
When a defective widget is rejected on the assembly line, it’s a necessary step to ensure quality. Widgets don’t have feelings, so coldly rejecting and melting down the bad ones seems only right.
But when a good friend no longer returns your calls, when a lover speaks cruelly, when passion turns to indifference, that sort of rejection can cast doubt on who we are. It can lead us to see ourselves as defective, as intrinsically worthless, as garbage.
When my father committed suicide, I interpreted his death as a rejection of me. I was only 9 at the time, so it’s not surprising that I would fail to understand his depression and the desperate hopelessness he was enveloped in. What did I know of that kind of pain?
I couldn’t relate to what was going on in his head, so I blamed myself for his suicide. I saw it as his way of rejecting me, his son, who had fallen short of whatever a son should be.
That was the filter I have used to interpret all of the big and little rejections in my life ever since. It’s true for a lot of us.
To be rejected, whether it’s an idea that doesn’t gain support at work, or something I create with my hands or my mind that doesn’t succeed, or a relationship that dies – all these things scream out that I am defective, that I am worthless.
Jesus was rejected. Both the message and the messenger were found lacking. He had followers, and he had enemies. At first glance, it would appear that his enemies won. He was angrily seized, tried on trumped up charges, tortured, and killed in a way reserved for the most heinous criminals. Yet God, his father, did not reject him. God lifted him out of the reject pile and made him the cornerstone.
In fact, through this Jesus, we have also been lifted out of the pile of rejects. We have been un-rejected by God. We have been declared worthy and valuable by the God who redeems us with the blood of his son.
Rejection is a crushing experience, and unfortunately a very common one. When good friends betray us, when lovers leave us, the pain of rejection is awful. For some, it becomes unbearable. But at such times, when we’re tempted to doubt our own worth, we might gain some comfort from the stone that was rejected, whom God made the cornerstone.
And we might, and should, gain comfort from the fact that God has not rejected us, but has given his only son so that we might experience un-rejection as children gathered in love into the arms of our good, good Father.