Reading “And shall leave me alone.” John 16:32
Jesus, for the most part, lived a lonely and solitary life. There was much in His mission, more in His character, still more in His person, that would baffle the comprehension and estrange from Him the interest and the sympathy of the world, compelling Him to retire within the profound solitude of His own wondrous being.
The twofold nature of Jesus contributed essentially to the loneliness of His life. The “great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh,” would of itself confine Him to an orbit of being infinitely remote from all others. Few could sympathize with His perfect sinlessness as man, fewer still with His essential dignity as God. As it was with the Lord, so, in a measure, is it with the disciple. The spiritual life of the renewed man is a profound mystery to the unregenerate. Strangers to the new birth, they cannot understand the divine nature of which all believers are partakers. Even among the saints we shall often find our path a lonely and solitary one.
Our Lord’s work contributed much to His sense of loneliness. How expressive His words: ”I have food to eat that you know not of. My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.” And so may it be with us. The Christian work given to us by Jesus may be of such a character as very much to isolate us from the sympathy and aid of the saints. It has concealed temptations, hidden trials, unseen difficulties with which we can expect but little sympathy and pity, compelling us, like our blessed Lord, to eat our “food” in solitude. But, oh, sweet thought, the Master whom you serve knows your appointed sphere of labor, and will, by His succouring grace, share and bless your lonely meal.
The temptation of Jesus rendered His path lonely. He was alone with the devil forty days and nights in the wilderness. No bosom friend, no faithful disciple was there to speak a word of sympathy. And are not our temptations solitary? How few are cognizant of the fiery assaults through which we are passing. Of the skeptical doubts, the blasphemous suggestions, the vain thoughts, the unholy imaginations transpiring within our inner man they know nothing, and this intensifies our sense of loneliness. But the Tempted One knows it all, and will not leave us to conflict single-handed with the tempter, but will with the temptation make a way for our escape.
The soul-sorrow of Jesus rendered His path lonely. Prophesying of Himself, He said, “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me.” How lonely may be your grief, O believer! None share your sorrow, few understand it. You are “as a sparrow alone on the house-top.” There are none to watch with you in your anguish. But your sorrow is all known to your loving, compassionate Saviour, whose wisdom appointed it, whose love sent it, whose grace sustains it, and who will soothe and strengthen you with His tenderest sympathy. Let your labor of love, your lonely sorrow, throw you more entirely upon and bring you into closer, more believing, and more loving relations with, the Saviour, wean you more from the creature, separate you more from the world, and set you more supremely apart for God.
Taken from Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering by Octavius Winslow, 1870 (public domain).