Isaiah 53:3 says: ‘He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’
As I contemplate this verse, I wonder: what was there about Jesus to despise? He went about doing good, He healed people, He told them to love their enemies, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. John 1:14 says of Jesus that He was full of grace and truth. As a Christian, I can only see beauty, self-sacrifice and love emanating out of Jesus, demonstrated in both His life and His death. Today He still demonstrates these traits in His offer of redemption for those who believe in His name.
Ecclesiastes says that there is nothing new under the sun. The reality is, Jesus and His followers are still hated by many. I don’t understand it, but I do understand that the scripture says the servant is not greater than the master. Jesus said, ‘If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.’ John 15:20
Everywhere we turn today there seems to be a move against Christians and Christian belief. It is becoming increasingly hard to say prayers in public places, to maintain employment if your beliefs are different from those of society at large, and to teach your children what you believe to be right and wrong. Even to read or refer to certain scriptures is becoming tantamount to a hate crime. There are words such as xenophobia, homophobia and islamophobia, but there are no words for perhaps the most persecuted group in the world: Christians (perhaps the word should be christophobia).
The point I am making is what we see is nothing new; it started with Jesus and has continued throughout the centuries for all true believers. Here is the good news: when these things happen to you, ‘Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ (Matthew 5:12)
This means that you are being categorised in the same group as the prophets. What an incredible privilege! Far from being down-hearted, we are instructed to rejoice and be glad for we have a great reward. The worst they can do to us is the best they can do for us, as it just increases our reward. So next time you feel some degree of prejudice, rejoice as they did in Acts 5:41, ‘because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for His name.’