“Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matt. 26:56)
What a sad contrast does this picture present to the one we have just been viewing — “Jesus, our fellow-sufferer.” His time of suffering has now come, but, lo, “All his disciples have forsaken him, and fled.” Is there nothing, my soul, in this affecting and 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, or imagery portray, 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 of the ocean-fullness of Christ’s; nevertheless, that drop has proved inexpressibly and immeasurably soothing, sweetening many a bitter trial, gilding many a cloud, and lighting the pressure of many a burden. For this uplift your praiseful heart to God.
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 — lo! 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? It meets a sad and painful one — one which could only thus be met — the lack of human sympathy.
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 slumbers at the moment that you most needed its wakeful, watchful expression. And yet its very absence may prove your richest soothing, 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, as your fellow-sufferer, 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.” (Mark 14:50)
Or, you are suffering from betrayed and disappointed confidence. One 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, in weal and in woe, with unfaltering fidelity and unchanging love; and though all forsake you, yet will he not in life, in death, and through eternity. How great and precious the divine promise — “They may forget, yet I will not.” “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) Precious Jesus! Though all forsake me, as all forsook you; yet you will never leave me, nor forsake me!