“He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief”
In the world we are often familiar with what rejection means – it is seen in job applications, relationship breakdowns, submissions of our work to prospective buyers and many other areas. We are perhaps less familiar with being despised, some of us. The term means to be treated with contempt and dislike.
Those who belong to a minority group in a particular situation may be familiar with being despised e.g. being the only indigenous person in a workplace. Sometimes Christians are treated with contempt for the same reason.
There may be other, more hidden situations where one experiences being despised. For example, within a relationship or family situation there may be one member who is treated with contempt. This may be the way of some to establish dominance and control or compensate for their own low self-esteem – by belittling a person’s worth, abilities, choices and values.
Within a culture, the same thing can happen. People can be despised because of their age, ethnicity, sex and cultural background, their size and shape, their financial status or their occupation, to name just a few factors. Satan, the architect of vanity, never ceases to encourage us to make ourselves feel good by making someone else feel inferior.
People may live with those who despise them for many years, sometimes even a lifetime.
Jesus knew what it was like to be despised. The Bible indicates that there were those who cast aspersions about His earthly parentage, in a society where illegitimacy was a great shame. Whilst He was loved by many, He was also opposed and mocked wherever He went. People who threaten the status quo and challenge the values of the elite often find themselves the target of ridicule and dislike, even hatred. Such was the love of God’s Son that He experienced all the derision of man in His earthly ministry. As such, He fully identifies with what we, His children experience.
In His final earthly hours, Jesus endured being despised in its most extreme form. He was mocked and jeered at, His title and name were made fun of and His ministry parodied. As He hung on the cross, those who He was giving His life away for continued to jeer and challenge Him. Yet His attitude was always one of love and grace, without retaliation.
Isaiah 49:16 tells us “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Our names were engraved on Jesus’s hands with iron nails.
The opposite of despising someone is to respect them. Throughout the gospels we are given examples of the way in which Jesus respected people who were despised and outcasts. He showed love and compassion to lepers, and criminals and tax collectors and adulterous women. As a Jew, He asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. In a totally counter-cultural way, He showed love to the poor and condemned the hard-heartedness of the wealthy and powerful.
Such is the greatness of our living God. Each person in this world who knows and feels the sting of contempt can also know the love and respect that our Heavenly Father pours out on us. You are not rubbish in His eyes. You are made in His image, worthy of love and respect. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short, but God has redeemed those who come to Him in repentance and faith in His Son. If you are not already a Christian, the true and living God, the God of love and life is waiting to receive your prayer of faith today.