John 1:10-11 — He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
Back in elementary school, I had a friend, someone special to me, someone I did everything with when we were together and talked about incessantly when we weren’t. I was young and didn’t have a lot of experience with friendships, so, long before “BFF” became a popular acronym, I thought we’d be best friends forever.
For some reason I don’t remember, we couldn’t get together during the summer break, but when fall brought the school season back, I couldn’t wait to see her again. Recess came on that first day, and I ran out to find my friend. I caught sight of her in animated conversation with a few other girls, giggling and talking over each other. Anxious to join the fun, I hurried toward them. And they shut up the minute they saw me coming.
I was bewildered and didn’t know how to break the ice that had suddenly grown into a four-inch-thick wall between them and me. My friend emerged from the chill and took me aside. “We can’t be friends anymore.”
She left with her new buddies, and I stood and watched them go, stunned, betrayed, heartbroken. I’d committed some sort of “friendship sin” I wasn’t even aware of, and lost my friend.
After that, I shied away from people because I figured, once they got to know me, they wouldn’t like me anymore.
To a certain extent, I outgrew it, or learned to live with it. The girl is so insignificant now, I can’t even remember her name. But the question stayed in my heart: Am I capable of maintaining a long-term friendship?
A few years ago, someone who’d been a vital part of my life for over thirty years decided she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I don’t know why she suddenly stopped accepting my calls, suddenly stopped calling me, suddenly began avoiding me, but I’m sure I did something that upset her. Wouldn’t surprise me at all. Like I say, I pretty much do go through life with a foot in my mouth.
All the pain from that first childhood rejection came flooding back, and the question of my heart pertaining to friendships was answered: No.
Rejection is a heart killer, and we all know how it feels. If you’ve been rejected by a parent or a spouse or a friend, you know exactly how it feels. Who would know how that feels better than the One who hung on a cross for an entire world of rejecters?
Can you imagine what it would be like to be capable of perfect love, to offer perfect love, and still be rejected?
Jesus knew the world—mankind—was blind to Him, that their conscience had been seared. But was He dismayed that His own didn’t receive Him? His own—the Jews. Those who were supposed to be holy and set apart for Him. Those of whom Jehovah said, “You shall be My people, and I will be your God” (Jer. 30:22). Those to whom He declared, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3).
How deep a love is that? Knowing His own wouldn’t receive Him, knowing the world didn’t even know Him, He forfeited His place in glory to come in human form to sacrifice Himself for them? He died to offer a promise and a hope and a new life, both here and beyond. He offered it to everyone, not just those who followed Him when He walked the earth, but to everyone, even to those who rejected Him and continue to reject Him.
Jesus knows exactly how it feels not to be known by His own. He knows the pain of rejection. And when people who are supposed to love us turn their backs to us, He is there to comfort us, coming from a standpoint of experience. He knows how we feel because He has felt it.
But what about our relationship with Him? If He came today, would we receive Him? Would we recognize Him? Is our relationship with Him deep enough that we would know Him? If it is, all it means is that we’d want to know Him more. We’d want to know Him and to be called His own.
John 10: 27 — “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Jesus, I want to hear Your voice above the noise of the world. I want to know You and be called Your own.