When I was a kid in New Orleans I loved to play baseball. Unfortunately, I was NOT an awesome player – and everyone else in the neighborhood knew that.
One of the most agonizing recurring memories of my childhood was standing there while someone chose everyone else to be on his team before I was chosen. Even though I could catch pretty any much ball that was thrown or hit anywhere near me, I was one of those known as a “scrub” – a crummy player because I wasn’t a great hitter when I was young.
So, having a natural desire to be a part of things and craving to at least play in sandlot baseball games, I would endure the humiliation of standing there to be picked over repeatedly. Being one of the last ones picked almost every time was like wearing a sign that said, “I am a scrub.”
Everyone knew it. I knew it.
This consumed me as a child.
“Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Matthew 4:19)
I have been taught that when Jesus approached Simon Peter and Andrew they were working as fishermen and not disciples of a rabbi it was because they had been picked over.
It is my understanding that in the first century rabbis would choose certain boys over others and would invite them to become disciples. They would invite these young men to become their disciples by saying “Follow me.”
The best rabbis would get their pick of disciples and on down the line. Those who had been picked over…the ones unchosen….were left behind and they had to become fishermen, farmers, shopkeepers, etc.
I think I know what it feels like to be one of those picked over and unchosen.
When I first heard this I identified with those left behind. Then, when I learned the importance of the term “Follow me” and realized that it was that very term that Jesus used as He approached His first disciples.
Imagine the joy that exploded in their hearts when they heard Jesus say, “Follow Me.”
Finally, they were no longer picked over. Can you imagine that? I can. I know that sensation to some degree because I felt it whenever someone finally said, “I pick Mike” to play on his team in those sandlot baseball games of my youth.
I don’t, however, know exactly what they felt because, unlike the kids choosing me, Jesus wasn’t settling for Peter, Andrew and the others when He chose them. He chose them because He really wanted them.
Then, I realized that He has chosen me…just like He chose them.
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)
“But you are a chosen generation (kin to God), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Think about this: He chose YOU too.
We were rejected…..picked over….by people but not by Jesus!
I hope you do what I did when I started seeing this and took it to heart for myself. I hope you soak in it, let it nourish your soul, heal old (and maybe some fresh) hurts….FILL you.
If you are a Christian you are CHOSEN by God.
If you aren’t yet a Christian you can be chosen by God just by receiving Jesus as your Lord like we Christians have.
Finally, I am writing this today because of something that came to me while I was visiting with another person chosen by God yesterday.
I was telling about the disciples being handpicked by Jesus and I realized that the reason Jesus was free that day to be walking near the Sea of Galilee was because He also wasn’t a disciple of some rabbi.
I wondered: “Was Jesus one of those picked over by rabbis when He was a young person?”
I believe He was.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14-15)
I know that what Jesus experienced while being tortured by people and then killed on a Cross is much more extreme than anything I experienced as a child being picked over to play baseball. I’m aware that all the rejections I experienced as a child are nothing compared to Calvary.
We forget that Calvary wasn’t the only hard thing Jesus experienced on the earth. Just BEING on the earth was painful for Him. Even where He lived was a reason for some people to mock Him.
“And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’” (John 1:46)
Since the word “tempted” in Hebrews 4:15 means to test using stress, the point of that verse is to reveal that Jesus really does know what ALL our suffering and discomforts feel like.
When I was a hospice chaplain I learned that everyone’s pain was their own and real. For an eight year old boy, standing there being picked over while everyone I knew watched, that pain was HUGE.
Whatever emotional pain you have suffered or are suffering can be HUGE to you.
Jesus knows our pain personally. This is part of why our God, the real God, came to the earth to live as a man.
He, too, was picked over by people. He was mocked. He was humiliated.
“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5)
When we read that word “stripes” in Isaiah 53:5 we automatically think about the marks left on His body from the beatings He endured and, surely, those are included in that word (“chabbûrâh”). I did some study on it and it is related to another Hebrew word: “châbar”. They both mean “bound to” and “joined to.”
This word “stripes” doesn’t refer as much to just the welts left on His back from His beating as it does to the reality that EVERYTHING He suffered from joining us on the earth and becoming eternally bound to those who receive Him is what heals us.
It is “by His joining us and being bound to us” that we are healed (mended).
You know….I’m no longer that little boy who was picked over. I’m now a man and there are times that I am still rejected, overlooked…picked over.
This happens to us all.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)
God has done a lot in my life through my Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. I’m no longer one who sees himself as being “picked over.” What happened in our pasts does not have to define us.
Fellow Christians, we have a new identity and it is “in Christ.”
Receiving Jesus and knowing that He understands the rejections of our lives can bring us into a new place when it comes to restoration and spiritual and emotional health.
Being “in Christ” gives us access to this. I’m coming to know myself “just as I also am known” by Him (1 Corinthians 13:12).
As I wrote this article today I was moved to pray for God to touch my heart so I could comprehend all He intends for me to get from this message.
Perhaps you would like to pray for this too:
“Father God, I ask You to saturate me with Your grace and understanding of all you want me to receive today. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for choosing to come to the earth and live as a human so that one day I would know without a doubt that You understand me and You understand my pain. Holy Spirit I invite You to flood me with healing, restoration and wholeness especially regarding the rejections I have experienced in my life. I present myself to You, my God, and commit to more and more see myself in terms of Jesus. I pray this in His beautiful name. Amen.”