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TEXT: Luke 22:47-71
SUBJECT: Luke #88: He Came to His Own
Richard Anderson was a colonel in the United States Marine Corps. Between 1965 and 1968, he led dozens of bombing raids over North Vietnam. On the last of them, his plane was shot down and he was taken prisoner.
Seeing he was a high-ranking officer, his captors knew he had a lot of information and they planned to get it out of him. They began with late night interrogations: night after night he was yelled at by one man and pleaded with by another. One made threats and the other made promises. The same questions were put to him over and over again. But he gave nothing more than name, rank, and serial number.
If words won't break him, torture might. For weeks, they did things to the man that cannot be named in polite company. But he kept the secrets.
If pain could not break him, labor might. In vicious heat and humidity he was sent out to dig, for fifteen hours a day, he dug trenches and filled them in. If he tried to rest, he was beaten, if he fell, he was kicked, if he tried to cover up, he was busted in the mouth with the butt of a rifle. But still, he would not talk.
When hard labor failed, they tried starvation. His rations-already small-were cut in half. And then in half again. In four months, he went from 180 pounds of muscle to 105 pounds of skin. But he kept his mouth shut.
After months of failure, they put him in solitary confinement. And there-in a cell three feet square-rat infested, hot, and stinking-he sat alone, for nine years. After a year or two, a knife was put into the cell and every day the guards dared him to commit suicide. But he didn't.
What kept him alive was his family. He loved his wife and kids and resolved to get back to them someday. His will never wavered. He must go home-no matter what the enemy did to him, he would go home!
And then the war ended.
The prisoners were released and they staggered their way back to the American lines. Anderson boarded a jet and was flown to a military hospital in Hawaii. There he convalesced for several months. Finally, he got the good news: "You're going home, Colonel".
He flew into the Naval Air Station in Alameda-and no one was there to greet him. He was disappointed, of course, but then he remembered what the traffic is like in the Bay Area! He got a cab and told the driver to take him home-143 Mission Avenue, San Francisco. Forty-five minutes later, the cab pulled up to the curb and he saw the old place, not much different than when he left it.
Fighting back tears of joy, he walked across the sidewalk and on to the porch. He wondered if he should knock or ring: but they he recalled: I live here! He turned the knob and the door was locked. He went for the spare key, but it wasn't where it used to be. He rang and no one answered. He knocked and no one came to the door. Maybe they don't recognize me he thought. He yelled out, Honey, kids, I'm home! It's Richard; it's your dad. Hey, where is everyone?
Finally, the curtain stirred and he saw them: the eyes, green with specks of gold and a mole on the lower lid. When he had first seen the eyes they were laughing; later they would love. It was her eyes that kept him alive all those years.
But there's something wrong: the eyes aren't happy or even sad. They're scared or perhaps it's not fear he sees in them but anger and disgust. Let me in he cries, but she doesn't move. Finally, she comes to the door and he hears the most sickening sound in the world: click goes the deadbolt. She won't let him in. He cries out to her, begs her, even orders her to let him in, but she won't. After an hour of pleading the cops show up and take him away. The lady has called the police and told them a crazy man is beating on her door.
In one hour she hurt him more than his captors did in nine years. They tortured a Marine who hated them. She rejected a husband who loved her.
If you haven't already guessed, I made up this story about the brave pilot and the woman who did him wrong. But even though the story is made up, the character displayed in it is only too real.
The shock and dismay Colonel Anderson felt in the story is something like what our Lord felt when He was rejected.
Today's passage is a tale of rejection-a cruel, senseless, and horrifying rejection.
The Man scorned is our Lord Jesus Christ. The ones who reject Him are not enemies or strangers, but His own people, His neighbors, and His friends.
REJECTED BY JUDAS
The Lord and His disciples are in the Garden of Gethsemane. They've gone there for a little peace and quiet. But one of them stays behind-it's Judas Iscariot. His friends don't think ill of him for it because they believe he's out giving to the poor. But he isn't doing that. A few days before, he had struck a deal with the Rulers of Israel. For thirty pieces of silver, he would take them to Christ and would do it in such a way as to not stir up the people.
This was not easy to do, for He had a lot of support and was seldom alone. But Judas knew where He went when He wanted some privacy. And he was now leading the cops and a bunch of hoodlums to that place.
When they got there, Judas sallied up the Lord and kissed Him on the cheek. This was the customary way close friends greeted each other, but that's not all it was: it was also a signal. The Man he kissed was the Man they were looking for. And when they heard the smack, they went for Him.
Did the Lord know the sort of man Judas was? Yes He did. Years before He said one of them was a devil-and He knew which one. But this doesn't mean our Lord didn't love the disciple-He did love him. Judas was a friend, a man who had spent many happy hours with Christ. And it was he-not an enemy-but a friend, a close friend, who was betraying the Lord. To add insult to injury, he did it with a kiss.
Did the rejection hurt our Lord? Of course it did. Jesus Christ is as human as you are. Would it hurt you if one of your best friends did to you what Judas did to Christ? If so, it hurt Him every bit as much-no, more, for the Lord has no calluses on His soul! Love makes one vulnerable. And no one loves as the Lord did.
The words are not sarcastic:
Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?
REJECTED BY PETER
When He was taken by the police, one of His friends fought back. Brandishing a sword, he cut off an enemy's ear. But the Lord wants no defense. The sword is put away and the severed ear is put back on. The brave man is Peter who stands up for his King!
At the moment. But not long after, the Lord was taken to the home of the High Priest where He stood for His life. People were milling around the place and Peter was one of them. Warming his hands at the fire, his face was seen by a servant girl. She said he was one of the disciples, but Peter said he wasn't. Then a man agreed with her: You are one of them, but Peter insisted he wasn't. Finally, another man was sure of it-but Peter swore he didn't know the Lord.
As the lying words were coming out of his mouth, Peter turned and saw Someone looking at him. It was the Lord Jesus Christ.
The story chokes you up-but maybe for the wrong reason. Most of us think of Peter's pain, but that is secondary to the story. It was the Lord who was crushed that night. For the second time in just a few hours, a close friend-and this time, a true one-had rejected Him. Except for John, it seems, Peter was the Lord's best friend, and there he is, ashamed of knowing Jesus Christ!
If Peter went out and wept bitterly, what do you think the Lord did? The denials cut Him to the quick.
REJECTED BY THE PEOPLE
Some men are wicked and all men are weak. We might understand two friends doing us wrong, but it wasn't just two who rejected the Lord that night.
The other disciples fled too. Eleven men-good men, men who loved the Lord-ran for their lives when He needed Him most. Of the men, only one came back to Him before His death. Had Thomas and Matthew, Andrew, James, and the others rejected Him too? Not in words, they hadn't, but in deeds, they did.
And so did the men who arrested Him. We don't know who they are, but it's not hard to figure it out. If it was a mob, it was made up of common people-the very people Jesus had identified with and served for more than three years.
Look what they did:
They mocked Him and beat Him and, having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, `Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?' And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.
What had He done to them? Hadn't He fed them and healed them and raised their children from the dead? Look how they repay Him! With a brutal beating and a tongue-lashing even more savage. And it wasn't five or ten men who did it, but a big mob of them. Hours later, the whole city would join them in rejecting Christ, choosing a killer and a thief over their King!
REJECTED BY THE RULERS
If the people were not very bright, their Rulers were. The Council had an emergency meeting that night-and nearly seventy men-the elders, chief priests, and scribes agreed that He was guilty of capital crimes and He must die the death.
He said He was the Christ and they said He was an Imposter!
If they acted on impulse, they might be excused. But they didn't. The Rulers would never change their minds about the Lord. Even when He rose from the dead-and they knew it-they kept on rejecting Him.
John was right when he said of Christ: He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. The English is bit weaker than the original Greek. The verse might read: He went home and they did not welcome Him. Who didn't welcome Him? The folks at home didn't-His own family wanted no part of Him!
How truly Isaiah spoke of Him:
He is despised and rejected of men.and we hid as it were our faces from Him.
Christ was looked down on at home; thrown out of His own house and the family hoped no one would know He belongs to them. Has anyone ever been rejected as He was? Can you imagine the shock and dismay He felt?
Even prodigal sons are welcome at home! But not the Faithful Son. No, the folks are ashamed of Him.
Why was the Lord rejected by His own? Everyone had his own reason: the Rulers' envy, Judas' love of money, Peter's weakness, and so on.
But behind them all there is another reason for His rejection. Had God wanted to, He could have turned the hearts of His people toward His Son. He could have caused them to love and receive the Lord Jesus Christ with open arms.
But He didn't. For Christ suffered this bitter rejection for us. What does it mean to be damned, to be lost? It means rejection! The damned are rejected by God and all others. Hell will be full of men and demons, but there will be no community in hell! Hell is a lonely crowd, it's a place of isolation, it is Solitary Confinement forever.
Christ bore the Rejection in our place.
This means we are not rejected, not by God, not by angels, and not by His people. We belong. You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. You're part of The General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
It means we ought to thank and bless the Lord Jesus Christ for suffering this Rejection for us. He didn't deserve it, we did. But He took it for us. And we should be mindful of His great sacrifice.
It means we should welcome all the saints into our hearts and homes. For they carry Christ in them. And, as much as you have done it to the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.
It means the unsaved are guilty of the highest crime. What are you doing by your unbelief? You're rejecting Christ! He came for you too. And you're welcoming Him with a yawn-or worse-with a clenched fist. Long ago the judgments of God fell on people who rejected Him. And they still do. Every day, Christ rejecters die and then, He no longer comes to them, seeking admission to their hearts. When you die, it will be too late to welcome Christ. But now you've got the time. Make the best of it.
Come and welcome Jesus Christ!
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