Rejection is a special kind of pain. Matthew’s gospel today describes the rejection Jesus experienced when he entered Jerusalem before his death. At first, he’s acclaimed by a large crowd as “the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” They spread their cloaks and cast branches before him. “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Then, Jesus goes into the temple and drives out those who were buying and selling there, a symbolic act that indicates he has come to restore this place of prayer. (Matthew 21, 1-18)
Reacting strongly, the Jewish leaders reject him and question his authority to do such things. He has been sent by God, Jesus says, and responds with a parable that condemns leaders like them who reject prophets sent by God.
Jesus remains convinced of his mission, but conviction does not insulate him from the pain that comes from rejection. Like the prophets before him he suffers from it, and his suffering only increases as the crowds that first acclaimed him fall silent and his own disciples deny and abandon him. All turn against him and he is alone.
The events described in today’s gospel and the parable Jesus told throws light on one suffering Jesus endured in his passion and death¬– rejection. Rejection and death will not be the last word, however: “the stone rejected by the builder will become the cornerstone.”
You went to Jerusalem, Lord,
to announce a kingdom come
a promise of God fulfilled.
a hope beyond any the mind could conceive.
Teach us to keep your dream alive
though we see it denied.