When A Heart Rejects The Gospel Message

Some people will reject the message of the gospel. But their rejections do not negate the gospel's power to change people and the world.

When A Heart Rejects The Gospel Message

June 25, 2020

When I became a Christian thirty-eight years ago, I couldn’t stop talking about Jesus. My life reflected the Apostle Paul’s words found in his letter to the Romans:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16 NIV)

I couldn’t imagine anyone rejecting the message of Jesus. Until one day, someone did. 

Shattered, I began to question the power of the gospel message. How could someone resist the good news? I admit, I still don’t understand why or how someone can turn away from the love of Christ. But I have come to terms with this reality.

When Jesus walked the earth, not everyone believed in Him (John 7:40-43). Even one of His chosen disciples rejected Him.

Every list of the disciples found in the gospels identifies Judas Iscariot as the one who betrayed Jesus (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16). But as the events of the gospels unfolded, none of the disciples suspected one of their number would become a traitor.

When Jesus announced at the last supper that one of the twelve would betray Him, the disciples reacted with confusion: 

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. (John 13:21-22 NIV)

Jesus knew from the beginning Judas would betray Him. But the other disciples never suspected, because He treated them equally. Each one received the same call, the same ministry, the same training and the same love from Jesus. But somewhere along the way, something went awry in the heart of Judas. 

The gospel of John provides us with some clues.

In the days leading up to His death, Jesus returned to Bethany and attended a dinner given in His honor. Mary, the sister of Lazarus (whom Jesus had raised from the dead), anointed Jesus with a pound of expensive perfume. Judas criticized her actions:

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4-6 NIV)

The Bible does not disclose why Judas stole the money, or how he spent it. But it does reveal his concern for the poor only masked a deceitful heart. In response to his objection, Jesus defended Mary and her extravagant gift (John 12:7-8).

Regardless of his motivation for stealing the money, Judas clearly did not agree with the direction taken by Jesus. Immediately following this event, Judas contracted with the chief priests to hand over Jesus for thirty silver coins (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11). 

Later, Judas realized his error. But unlike the other disciples, he did not turn to Jesus for forgiveness and grace. Instead, he tried to resolve the situation himself:

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” (Matthew 27:3-4 NIV)

Unfortunately, even when his attempt failed, Judas still did not turn to Jesus. Frustrated, he threw the coins into the temple and committed suicide (Matthew 27:5). 

The story of Judas is dark and unsettling. But it didn’t have to be. If Judas had only turned to Jesus, he could have found grace and been saved (John 3:16). Like the other apostles, he could have changed the world by preaching the gospel. The choice belonged to Judas.

There has always been, and there will always be, people who reject the gospel. But their rejections never diminish the power of the gospel to change lives. 

Jesus transformed the world with a few faithful followers. By following in His footsteps, we can do the same.

We can never underestimate the power of the gospel.

As I continue down the road less traveled, I pray to faithfully follow the One who changed the world. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you can do the same. 

When A Heart Rejects The Gospel Message

June 25, 2020

Some people will reject the message of the gospel. But their rejections do not negate the gospel's power to change people and the world.

When I became a Christian thirty-eight years ago, I couldn’t stop talking about Jesus. My life reflected the Apostle Paul’s words found in his letter to the Romans:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16 NIV)

I couldn’t imagine anyone rejecting the message of Jesus. Until one day, someone did. 

Shattered, I began to question the power of the gospel message. How could someone resist the good news? I admit, I still don’t understand why or how someone can turn away from the love of Christ. But I have come to terms with this reality.

When Jesus walked the earth, not everyone believed in Him (John 7:40-43). Even one of His chosen disciples rejected Him.

Every list of the disciples found in the gospels identifies Judas Iscariot as the one who betrayed Jesus (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16). But as the events of the gospels unfolded, none of the disciples suspected one of their number would become a traitor.

When Jesus announced at the last supper that one of the twelve would betray Him, the disciples reacted with confusion: 

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. (John 13:21-22 NIV)

Jesus knew from the beginning Judas would betray Him. But the other disciples never suspected, because He treated them equally. Each one received the same call, the same ministry, the same training and the same love from Jesus. But somewhere along the way, something went awry in the heart of Judas. 

The gospel of John provides us with some clues.

In the days leading up to His death, Jesus returned to Bethany and attended a dinner given in His honor. Mary, the sister of Lazarus (whom Jesus had raised from the dead), anointed Jesus with a pound of expensive perfume. Judas criticized her actions:

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4-6 NIV)

The Bible does not disclose why Judas stole the money, or how he spent it. But it does reveal his concern for the poor only masked a deceitful heart. In response to his objection, Jesus defended Mary and her extravagant gift (John 12:7-8).

Regardless of his motivation for stealing the money, Judas clearly did not agree with the direction taken by Jesus. Immediately following this event, Judas contracted with the chief priests to hand over Jesus for thirty silver coins (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11). 

Later, Judas realized his error. But unlike the other disciples, he did not turn to Jesus for forgiveness and grace. Instead, he tried to resolve the situation himself:

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” (Matthew 27:3-4 NIV)

Unfortunately, even when his attempt failed, Judas still did not turn to Jesus. Frustrated, he threw the coins into the temple and committed suicide (Matthew 27:5). 

The story of Judas is dark and unsettling. But it didn’t have to be. If Judas had only turned to Jesus, he could have found grace and been saved (John 3:16). Like the other apostles, he could have changed the world by preaching the gospel. The choice belonged to Judas.

There has always been, and there will always be, people who reject the gospel. But their rejections never diminish the power of the gospel to change lives. 

Jesus transformed the world with a few faithful followers. By following in His footsteps, we can do the same.

We can never underestimate the power of the gospel.

As I continue down the road less traveled, I pray to faithfully follow the One who changed the world. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you can do the same. 

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