Jesus knows how you feel.
But again, don't stop there and ignore one of the most often ignored commands from God from Matthew 18 - reconcile and forgive. Failing to do so affects people around you and makes the relationship never really feel healed.
Consider what happened to Christ after He challenged His disciples to accept all of the commands He was teaching... to completely consume Him in every way possible, even if it meant the kind of flesh and blood kind of obedience that meant doing healthy things that felt harder than you could imagine.
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)For all the theology in this verse, there's something emotional happening here we may skip over. How might Jesus have felt when people He cared about - faces He knew, and stories He tracked - said, "I'm not comfortable with You or what You're about. Don't look me up anymore, understand?"
The easiest metaphor for me (perhaps because of what I do) is to imagine this was a church. Perhaps the person might say to Jesus, "Your style of ministry isn't meeting my needs. I think I'm going to go somewhere else where I can be fed like I am comfortable being fed. I'll see you when I see you. Cool?"
That has to hurt. In fact, I know it does.
There are instances in the Bible where people part ways, but it's clear that God ideal is that wouldn't happen. So what happens when you deal with some kind of rejection? According to this passage, we see a few things happening here in Jesus' own heart:
- Grieve: This may seem like an odd step, but it need to be stated. Jesus demonstrates it near the end... there is clearly something emotional happening in His heart, whether it's the acknowledgement of potential loss or an actual moving moment.
Grieving allows you to spend some time just processing your feelings, and helps you make sure you don't prematurely react out of your initial hurt. But be careful - there does come a point when a lot of people who say "I just need some space" end up using that space to flee from tension instead of pause and move back toward the relationship. So grieve... but don't expect every tear to be wiped away before you reconcile - just let the largest ones dry up a bit.
- Stay strong: I admire how Jesus doesn't flinch on doing the right thing here. Even with all the pushback, He knows that Truth is Truth and can't be compromised. If you're waiting on someone who's rejected you or won't reconcile, stay mature and steadfast about these values that may not be popular, but are right and true.
Jesus says in verse 38, “I have come to do the will of God who sent me, not what I want.” There’s a lot of pressure in trying to please everyone. As the crowd grows, there will be more voices clamoring for your attention and potentially becoming offended if you don’t play their hand. One is a much less stressful number.
- Reach out: You may be rejected from the other end, from unreturned phone calls to unanswered correspondence. Do the right thing even if it's one-way - reach out and keep the door open. Christ does that here, even though people walk away from Him versus toward Him.
- Be secure in the Father's Love: There was never any doubt in Jesus' mind about whether or not the Father loved him. The echo of the words of his baptism,“This is my son, and I am really pleased with him,” can’t be underestimated.
- Journey with those around you who haven't left: Sometimes when I am hurting to work something out with someone else, I forget to invest in the relationships in front of me. Even Jesus didn’t go at it alone. In response to his question, Peter says, “Where are we going to go? You have the words of life.”
You need people like that. “I’ve got your back” type of people. Some may even tell you what you don't want to hear, but listen - for such "wounds" from a friend can be trusted.