What does it mean that Christ was despised and rejected of men (Isaiah 53:3)? from Compelling Truth
“He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3)
This verse is part of a prophetic section about Jesus that is often called the Suffering Servant Song. We learn that Jesus’ mission on earth was not to be popular or to establish an earthly kingdom but to be crushed, wounded, afflicted, grieved, despised, and rejected (Isaiah 52:13—53:12).
Jesus was despised and rejected on many levels, not just when He was crucified by the Romans at the instigation of the Jews. First, where He was raised—Nazareth of Galilee—was looked down on by many Jews. In fact, when Philip told Nathanael that they’d found the Messiah and He was Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). This was a first strike against Jesus, but then even His own hometown rejected Him (Luke 4:16–30).
For about a year, large crowds followed Jesus everywhere, partly in faith, partly in fascination. People were really starting to wonder if He was the long-awaited Messiah. This didn’t last. Jesus started saying things the Jewish authorities didn’t like, especially His “I am” statements: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48); “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30); “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus unashamedly equaled Himself with God the Father, and the Jewish authorities saw this as heresy. They were also concerned about their place with the Romans. They started plotting His death (John 11:45–53). Some of His own disciples found His words difficult, especially when after He said “I am the bread of life,” He said they would need to feed on this bread (John 6:48–71).
Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, certainly despised and rejected Him when he took money from the Pharisees to lead them right to Him in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:14–16; Luke 22:21; John 18:2–3; Psalm 41:9). Not long after, those disciples still with Him ran for their lives when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:27, 50; cf. Zechariah 13:7; Psalm 38:11). Peter outright denied knowing Jesus three times but was later forgiven and reunited with Christ (Matthew 26:34, 69–75; John 21:15–19).