The Lonely Jesus

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Hello there! I hope you and your loved ones are well and safe during this tumultuous time. I will not spend any moments speaking of it who must not be named, but know that I am praying for it all.

This post is going to be all about an aspect of Jesus I’ve been thinking about for close to a year, His loneliness. Not only His loneliness, but how He managed it and treated those who made Him feel that way.

Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.

Luke 5:16

Throughout the accounts of Jesus’ life there are many verses like the one above that describe His frequent withdrawal from the masses. I often interpreted these instances as Jesus simply needing to take a breather and realign His purpose with His Father’s instead of falling in line with the world’s. I still believe this is true, but I’m now thinking this was also His way of not getting too dependent on the presence of others. After all, He knew of the disappointment and loneliness He’d face in the final days of His life. Maybe He was preparing for that lonesome moment in Gethsemane when His disciples couldn’t stay awake to support Him and ultimately fled as He was arrested. Was Jesus preparing all along to not only face His brutal murder, but also His own heart as it was plagued with feelings of abandonment, betrayal and disappointment?

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He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

Isaiah 53:3

What was it like when Jesus would read over this passage in the synagogue as He grew up? Did He wrestle with social anxiety and distrust of every single person He met? Did He ever think, “They’re all going to turn their backs on me one day. Why should I make myself vulnerable to them?” His entire life was leading up to the fulfillment of this scripture and many others that are most humans’ nightmare. But somehow He was able to deeply love every person He came into contact with and remain on the course the Father set for Him.

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”

John 2:23-25

Jesus constantly chose to only entrust Himself to the Father, always relying on the perfect love and immense power that can strengthen Him and change mankind. He didn’t need people to be perfect in order for Him to love and rescue them from their own humanity. And though on a good day this is very easy to take hold of, I’m certain there were days when Jesus just wanted to be truly accepted by those around Him. He was misunderstood 99% of the time, even by His own earthly family. The loneliness of Jesus is boundless, I believe that’s why He often communed with the Father in solitude. The Father is the only one who truly understood and loved Him.

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“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

1 Peter 2:23

During my bout with severe depression last year, no one really knew how to speak to me, few tried but most completely left me. In that silence Jesus whispered, “I’ve been there and I made it through.” I’ve wanted to remain in the remote places with God because it’s much safer than being with people. But if I’m going to follow Jesus, that means I need to not only go back in the crowds, but also allow myself to be vulnerable in love. Even if I am rejected, misunderstood or treated poorly by them, it should not hinder my love for them.

Jesus also cultivated a heart willing to welcome back those who betrayed Him on the other side of His suffering. Pretty much everyone understands people will fail us, but it is not normal to readily receive those who failed us back into our lives. We lean on phrases like “people are in our lives for a season” or “friends come and go” and create a boundary in our hearts toward those who we were once close to.

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I’ve been looking to Jesus’ example hoping to seek reconciliation rather than dissension. It has been challenging to allow my emotions to surface and let God work with me to respond as He would. The temptation to behave as the world would is nothing short of challenging. How can I stand tall in mercy when I live in a culture that encourages cutting off whoever isn’t “worth my energy”?

“When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said.”

John 21:9-12

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This is yet another area where Jesus is quite countercultural. He could’ve returned from the realm of the dead and had absolutely nothing to do with the disciples who showed their full cowardice and betrayal. This is what we’d expect of the average person, but Jesus is greater. Instead He lays out a seafood breakfast and reassures the disciples of His forgiveness and love for them. Even further, He chooses them to carry on His work of bringing salvation and light to the world. This same group, who were what we’d call “fake friends” today, have been tasked with acting the complete opposite, bearing Jesus’ likeness.

Being like Jesus means believing that people can change for the better. Not only that we can be made new, but that those around us can be made new as well. Usually people have a hard time believing either the former or the latter. Sometimes both! But it doesn’t change that anything is possible with God. Even though Jesus knew “what was in man“, He found a way to love and empower us to transcend our own humanness. He is truly perfect in all of His ways.

I pray we will strive to follow Jesus’ example of complete forgiveness, unshakable hope and unconditional love. This is how we can make His sacrifice on the cross bear fruit in our own lives.

“The merciful are blessed,
for they will be shown mercy.
The pure in heart are blessed,
for they will see God.
The peacemakers are blessed,
for they will be called sons of God.”

Matthew 5:7-9

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