Jesus refused to be a loner.
Jesus is God and one of his attributes is self-sufficiency. The Westminster Confession of Faith states, “God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made…” While that is of course true, there is so much more to be said.
Paul wrote, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:4-8).
Jesus chose not to be a loner. And in so doing, Jesus chose pain…the inevitable result of being in relationship with other people. If you are committed to people, it is a commitment to pain, chaos, misunderstanding, conflict, anger, betrayal and pathos.
Just ask Jesus. He knows.
Almost everybody was pleased when the blind threw away their white canes. People liked the sound of beggars’ cups hitting the side of the road. It was fun to see cripples planting their crutches in the sand and doing a jig. Everybody likes a magician. But when a “magician” starts talking about things like losing one’s life, taking up a cross, and dying to self, the crowd has a tendency to quietly dissipate.
John wrote, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’” (John 6:66-67).
Jesus felt rejected and abandoned.
When Lazarus died, John said simply (it’s the shortest verse in the entire Bible), “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Theologians and Bible teachers give various reasons for Jesus’ tears, but I think he was a human Messiah mourning, feeling the loss, and missing his friend.
I know Jesus then raised Lazarus from the dead, but I believe that was as much for Jesus’ sake as it was for Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus, in his incarnational state, needed a friend and his friend was dead.
Jesus said of the city of Jerusalem, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Luke 13:34). And then Luke wrote that when Jesus looked out over the city, “he wept over it” (Luke 19:41)
Jesus was lonely.
Then when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane facing the most horrible and devastating human loneliness--the loneliness of one whose God would turn away--he sought the friendship of his disciples. Jesus said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). Listen to the pain in Jesus’ words when he finds them sleeping: “Could you not watch with me one hour?”
Jesus was in pain…a pain inflicted by those he chose to love.
And later on the cross, Jesus’ hands were scarred, wounded by nails inflicted by those he chose to love.
You have scars too. (We all do.)
Maybe someone you loved rejected you. Maybe you know exactly what it’s like to have a friend knife you in the back. Maybe your husband or wife walked away. Maybe your teenager said that he hated you. Maybe your Christian brothers and sisters failed to look at your heart and didn’t understand that you were doing the best you could. Maybe you couldn’t please your parents no matter how hard you tried.
Jesus chose not to be a loner. And in so doing, Jesus chose pain…the inevitable result of being in relationship with other people.
It’s really okay to cuss and spit (that’s metaphorical…sort of). When it really hurts, don’t pretend that everything is okay.
“Lord, I’m angry,” I prayed. “I don’t know if I can deal with this. I simply can’t forgive this time. It’s just too much to ask.”
I think I heard him answer, I know…but I did. It’s a process. It’s hard but you can do it because I’ll help. Look at the scars you have and then look at mine. They aren’t altogether different.
Time to Draw Away
Read Isaiah 41:10 / Isaiah 53:3-7 / Matthew 11:28-30
What are your scars? What does it mean to you that Jesus was lonely, rejected and in pain the same way you are lonely, rejected and in pain? Jesus identified with us. His incarnation wasn’t a game of pretend. He walked our dirty roads and died on a garbage heap in our place. In your struggle, Jesus doesn’t leave you alone. He comforts and helps. But more than that...Jesus comes himself.