Reading: “Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled.” Matthew 26:56
Jesus’ time of suffering at the hand of the multitude has now come, but we read that “all His disciples have forsaken Him, and fled.” Is there nothing, my soul, in this significant fact from which you may gather much that is instructive and consolatory concerning your own condition? We have been contemplating the sympathy of Jesus with His afflicted saints. And oh, what heart can conceive the reality, humanity, and tenderness of that sympathy! In all our afflictions He is afflicted, in all our trials He is tried, in all our persecutions He is persecuted, in all our temptations He is tempted. My soul, there is no sympathy among men, saints, or angels that can compare with Christ’s. And yet how thankful should you be for the smallest measure of human sympathy given you. It may have been, and doubtless was, but as a drop in comparison to the ocean-fullness of Christ’s; nevertheless, that drop has proved inexpressibly and immeasurably soothing, sweetening many a bitter trial and lightening the pressure of many a burden.
But even this drop of creature sympathy afforded you was denied your suffering Lord. How earnestly and touchingly did He ask it! ”Stay here and watch with me, while I go yonder and pray.” And when from the scene of His conflict and anguish He returned, sobbing and gory, to bury His grief in their compassion and love, He found them sleeping! How gentle, yet how searching, His rebuke: ”Could you not watch with me one hour?” What condition in the experience of the saints does this page of our Lord’s history meet?
You are, perhaps, in a condition which needs the sympathy of a kind and loving spirit, and your sad and clinging heart yearns for it. But, as in the case of your sorrowing Lord, it is not there when you most need it. And yet its very absence may prove your richest blessing by bringing you into a closer experience of the sympathy of Jesus. Having Himself felt its need and its lack, He is all the more fitted to sympathize with and supply your present need.
You are perhaps suffering from misplaced and wounded affection. You have naturally allowed the fibers of your heart to entwine around some object of its warm and clinging love; but chilled affection, or the whisper of envy, or the venomed tooth of slander, has wrenched those fibers from their stem, and trailed them, torn and bleeding, in the dust. How like Jesus now you are, of whose loved disciples it is recorded, ”They all forsook Him, and fled.”
Or, you are suffering from betrayed and disappointed confidence. One whom you thought a friend, tender and true, has deserted you; a judgment upon whose guidance you leaned has misled you; a source upon whose supplies you depended has failed you; a confidence in which you too implicitly reposed has betrayed you; and thus you are learning the lesson Jesus learned when ”all His disciples forsook Him, and fled.”
Cheer up, my soul! There is One who has promised never to leave you. When father and mother, husband and wife, lover and friend, forsake you, the Lord will take you up. He who was deserted by friends and followers, will cling to you in prosperity and in adversity with unfaltering fidelity and unchanging love.
Taken from Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering by Octavius Winslow, 1870 (public domain).