“And shall leave me alone.” (John 16:32)
Jesus, for the most part, lived a lonely and solitary life. It was of necessity so. 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 experimentally to the New Birth, they cannot understand the “divine nature” of which all believers are “partakers.” Nor this only. Even among the saints we shall often find our path a lonely and solitary one. How much may there be in — the truths which we hold, in the church to which we belong, and even in the more advanced stages of Christian experience we have traveled, which separates us in fellowship and sympathy from many of the Lord’s people. Alas, that it should be so.
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.” (John 4:34) And so may it be with us. The Christian work confided to us by Jesus may be of such a character, and in such a sphere, as very much to isolate us from the sympathy and aid of the saints. It has concealed temptations, hidden trials, unseen difficulties, distasteful employments, 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 succoring grace, soothing love, and approving smile, 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 soothing sympathy. And are not our temptations solitary? How few are cognizant of, or even suspect, the fiery assaults through which we, perhaps, 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 Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.”
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 housetop.” There are none to watch with you in the garden of your anguish — your wounded heart, like the stricken deer, bleeds and mourns in secret. But your sorrow is all known to your loving, compassionate Savior; 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 Savior; wean you more from the creature; separate you more from the world; and set you more supremely apart for God. Oh, then you will thank him for the discipline of loneliness as among the holiest and most precious blessings of your life!