“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” John 13:20
One of the greatest obstacles in evangelism is the fear of rejection. Christians are reluctant to share the gospel with non-Christians because they are afraid of getting a negative response from them.
We are learning from Jesus how we can recover from rejection. Having a recovery plan can overcome our fear of rejection. So far we have learned to look to the Bible for God’s purpose (John 13:18) and to let Christ deepen our faith in His person (John 13:19).
We can also recover from rejection when we LEARN NOT TO TAKE REJECTION PERSONALLY (John 13:20). When the disciples do recover their faith after Jesus’ death and resurrection, they will begin to share Christ’s message with a lost world (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8ff, etc.). Jesus said to His disciples, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (John 13:20). Christ explains that the one who “receives” (lambanō) or “welcomes” the disciples whom Jesus sends are welcoming Jesus and the Father who sent Him. The reason they receive the Father when they receive Jesus is because Jesus is equal with God the Father because He is God (cf. John 5:17-23; 10:30). To receive Jesus is the same as receiving the Father because Christ is the perfect reflection of the Father.
On the other hand, those who reject the ones whom Jesus has sent are ultimately rejecting Christ and the Father who sent Him. Hence, the messengers of Christ are to learn not to take the rejection of others personally because they are ultimately rejecting Jesus and His message, not them.
Let’s face it, the message of the gospel is offensive to people because they do not want to be told that they are sinners (Romans 3:23). They are offended when the Bible tells them that their works cannot save them from their sins (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8-9). People do not want to hear that all other religions cannot get them to heaven, only Jesus Christ can do that (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). They do not want to hear that if they never trust in Christ alone they will be punished for their sins forever in hell (John 3:18; 8:24; Revelation 20:15). The truth is we can expect a certain amount of rejection as we preach the gospel because the message is offensive to human pride. 1
It is also important to recognize that how people respond to you says more about them than it does about you. When you are on the receiving end of rejection, distance yourself and get perspective. This is what Jesus did when His enemies crucified Him. While hanging on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Christ did not take their rejection personally. He realized that their rejection of Him was because they were spiritually ignorant (“for they do not know what they do”)about His identity. Their sins blinded them to what they were doing. This enabled Jesus to forgive them.
When unsaved people reject us for preaching the gospel and following Christ, realize that they are lost empty vessels who are blinded by the ruler of this world. Until the Holy Spirit removes their spiritual blinders, they will not welcome God’s Word into their lives. No matter how badly we are treated, we do not have to take what has happened to us as a hundred percent reflection of who we are. Their response says more about them than it does about us. But our response to them says more about us. Like Jesus, pray to God our Father to forgive them for their initial rejection of the gospel so they can eventually come to Jesus in faith. The more we pray for those who reject us, the more our hearts will soften toward them and begin to love them as Jesus does (Matthew 5:44).
Prayer: Father God, thank You for speaking to my heart today about how to respond to those who reject the gospel message.Those who reject the gospel message are actually rejecting You and Your Son rather than the messenger. Although it still hurts to experience such a negative response, my heart begins to soften toward them when I realize the spiritual battle that is taking place in their hearts and minds. I also went through the same battle before I came to faith in Jesus and You did not give up on me at that time. Oh how thankful I am for that. As I think about the unsaved people in my life right now, I pray that Your Holy Spirit will soften their hearts toward the gospel of Jesus Christ so they can begin to see Him as the Messiah, the Son of God, so they may have everlasting life in His name. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
1. The Evangelism Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, copyright 2014 EvanTell, Inc.), pg. 972.