THE LONELINESS OF CHRIST
by A.P. Adams - 1885
The Sacrifice of Christ
The common idea is that the sacrifice and death of Christ was His life of self denial while here on earth and His cruel death upon the cross, but neither of these was the real sacrifice He made or the real death He suffered. These were a part of His sufferings and the believer shares in them, filling up the measure (Col. 1:24) that he may also "reign with
Him.” 2 Tim. 2:12. So far as these deprivations and physical sufferings were concerned.
It would be hard to say how Christ sacrificed and suffered any more than many a martyr. Indeed, such a view of Christ's sacrifice and death falls far short of the truth and really belittles both. Paul clearly sets forth the sacrifice of Christ when he says. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." 2 Cor. 8:9. This passage positively teaches the pre-existence of Christ and clearly sets forth His sacrifice. The sacrifice He made was not after His incarnation, but before. He left the "glory that He had with the Father before the world was" and His boundless "riches in glory" and entered into this fallen state, being "made in all points like unto His brethren.” With this view in mind we can understand the Savior's words in John 10:17,18. “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
What life is Jesus talking about here? The natural life, most Christians would think, but there is nothing in scripture to show that Christ laid down His physical life in any sense different from what any martyr might be said to have laid down his life. We read that "He was cut off out of the land of the Living,” and that the Jews "killed Him,” "slew" Him, etc. To be sure He gave His life voluntarily.
But many a martyr has done the same. Paul, for example, did as much. Moreover, we are sure that He did not Himself take up His physical life again, for we are repeatedly told that God raised Him from the dead. Christ had no power to raise Himself any more than any human being has power to raise himself. We have positive evidence to this effect in I Cor. 6:14. "God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power." Thus does it appear that Christ neither laid down His natural life in any special sense, nor did He take it again.
And yet He says, "I lay down My life of Myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again." What life? Not His natural earth life, but His preexistent life, even that "glorious" existence that He had before He entered into man's fallen estate. This is the life He laid down and this was the life He took again and that "God raised Him from the dead." Now this view is confirmed by the tense of the verb in the passage we are considering. According to the margin of the New Version, the passage reads: “I lay down My life; no man took it away," etc. According to this rendering, the life that Jesus was talking about was a life He had already laid down. The Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts, two of the best authorities, also confirm this view by rendering the passage, "No man hath taken it from Me." Thus it appears very certain that the life Jesus laid down was His pre-existent life - a life He had already sacrificed, a life fully in His own power to lay down and take up according to the "commandment" of the Father. These considerations constitute also a very strong additional argument in proof of the pre-existence of Christ. Those who deny His pre-existence would have great difficulty in explaining what life it was that Jesus laid down and took up again, as it is certain He did not lay down nor take up His physical life, and why the verb, as we have noticed, should be in the past tense. But all this is in perfect harmony with the view presented above. And now, having seen the real sacrifice that Christ made and the true life that He laid down, we are prepared to understand the death He suffered.
When Jesus left the glory and riches of His pre-existent state and "was made flesh,” what sort of a condition did He enter into? Was it another life? No, it was death. When Jesus became incarnate, He entered into a condition of death and remained in that condition all His earth life. Hence the death He suffered was thirty-three and a half years long, even all the time He tabernacled in the flesh; and this was as it should be. When a person lays down his life, he enters into death. When Christ laid down His pre-existent life, He entered into death, this fallen state. He had, of course, a natural existence, but He had nothing in Himself (John 6:57) that the scriptures recognize as life. According to the word of God, death is alienation from and ignorance of God; life is harmony with and knowledge of Him. "To be carnally minded," says Paul, "is death; but to be spiritually minded is Life and peace." Why? Because "the carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Rom. 8:6,7. Here is a positive Bible definition of death.
Now see a definition of life. John 17:3. "This is life eternal (aeonian), to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." From these Bible definitions we can easily gather the meaning - the Bible meaning - of death and life. Death is enmity against God; life then is harmony and union with Him. Life is knowledge of God; death then is ignorance of Him. In this sense the whole race of mankind is dead - not only sinful and guilty and corrupt, but dead, as it is written, "If one died for all, then were all dead." 1 Cor. 5:14. All the life that even the Christian now has is by Faith. Says Paul, "The life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God." Again to the Colossians, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
Thus all mankind, including even the believer, is as yet tireless. "Let the dead bury their dead," says Christ, as though all were dead together the corpse in the shroud and those who were bearing it to the sepulcher. This is an important point. We refer to it in order that each may understand the real death that Jesus suffered, not the few hours of agony on Calvary or the three days "sleep" in Joseph's tomb, but the thirty-three and a half years of His sojourn among the lost. From the manger and swaddling clothes of His infancy to the cross and linen winding sheet of His passion it was death, death, death - the same dark and charnel prison house as that which imprisons fallen man. We cannot imagine the unspeakable horror of this death to Christ, for we never knew what life is. Coming as He did from "the bosom of the Father" into this dark pit of corruption, His life-long death must have been terrible beyond all human expression or comprehension.
And now we are prepared to consider another sadly interesting feature in the life of Christ - one that will still further show the awful reality of the three and thirty years" death that He suffered.
The Loneliness of Christ
Man is social in his nature; loneliness is a horror. Men have been driven mad by Simply being left alone for a long period. Persons wrecked on lonely islands and left alone for years have lapsed into savagery and become virtually wild beasts. But everyone knows that it is not necessary to be alone in order to feel lonely. The worst kind of loneliness is ofttimes felt when multitudes are around us, but no acquaintance, friend or relative. But still further we may be lonely, and keenly so, from the lack of sympathy and spiritual communion even when surrounded by our relatives and friends. Many an isolated lover of the truth knows what it is to be lonely from this cause and to long for communion with some kindred soul that this hunger of the spirt might be appeased. Now Christ knew what it was to be lonely from all these causes, and especially the last. That we may know something of His interior life, let us study this subject prayer fully.
We might begin with His birth. Jesus was born a perfectly unique and lonely being. There never was one like Him before nor since. He began His earth life lower down than Adam. The latter was created an adult, innocent and sinless, and in possession of the faculties and functions of maturity. Jesus came into the world an infant - in this respect as in all others "made life unto His brethren" - and thus knowing all the helplessness of humanity. He was "made of a woman,” hence a member of the fallen race, "made sin for us,” and as Jesus thus began a lonely being, so all His Life was lonely.
His childhood was lonely; no one understood Him; no one would sympathize with Him, not even His mother, though she hid His strange and wonderful sayings in her heart. The story of His talking with the doctors when He was twelve years old shows this. How strange that Jesus should distress His reputed parents by thus staying away from them! And, when they find Him and mildly chide Him for His truancy, His answer is, "Did ye not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
No, they did not know it; they could not even understand His words then uttered. “They understood not the saying which He spake unto them; and He went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: (Luke 2:29-51), a lonely and homesick child.
Next we come to His baptism. Here He was misunderstood, and He has been misunderstood ever since. Why was Christ baptized of John? John's baptism was for 'repentance and remission of sins’; but Christ had no sins to repent of and none to be remitted. The common view is that Christ’s baptism was for the sake of the example, since all Christians must be baptized. But Christ's baptism of John could not be an example to Christians, for John's baptism was not a Christian baptism at all, as we are well assured from the fact that Christians who had received only John's baptism had to be baptized “into Christ" just the same as though they had never been baptized at all. See Acts 29:1-7. Some think that the baptism of Christ was in the fulfillment of the law regarding the initiation of the high priest into his office. Ex. 29:4. So Christ, when He entered upon His priestly office, as is supposed, at the beginning of His earthly mission, was “washed” in fulfillment of the law. But all this is a mistake for the one reason that Jesus was not a high priest at all while He was on earth. See Heb. 8:4. Jesus had no right to the priestly office while on earth. “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood.” Heb. 9:13. This is decisive and hence it could not have been in fulfillment of the law that Jesus was baptized. Why was it then? What was the true reason?
It was a part of His humiliation. It was one of the ‘points’ wherein He must be ‘made like unto His brethren.’ Although Jesus was not a sinner, yet He was ‘made sin.’ He took the sinner’s place and hence must begin as low down as the sinner has to when he comes to God. ‘Repentance toward God’ is the first step in the sinner’s upward course. So Christ, although He had no sins to repent of, submits to the humiliation of the baptism of repentance because ‘thus it became Him to fulfill all righteousness,’ that is, since He is our ‘forerunner’, it was necessary that He should tread all the course, from the very beginning to the end, of that way that leads to the ‘righteousness which is by faith.’ Hence we can understand John’s words to Christ when He came to be baptized. John forbade Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?’, as though he said, ‘You have no sins to repent of; this is not a baptism needful or fitting for you.’ ‘And Jesus, answering, said unto him, ‘Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then suffered Him.’ How significant is this ‘now’. It was the period of Christ’s humiliation. He that was to ascent far above all heavens must first descent to the lower parts of the earth. Eph. 4:9, 10. And so Jesus the immaculate, the undefiled, takes His place at the commencement of His earthy ministry with the corrupt, guilty and condemned sinner, whose first step toward God is repentance. He identifies Himself in this with that ‘generation of vipers,’ with grasping publicans, hypocritical Pharisees, cruel soldiers as though He was one of them in need of repentance like the others, although in reality He was ‘Holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners.’ But none of them understood it then and few understand now how low Christ stooped -- and ‘God in Christ’--- to reconcile the world unto Himself.
We shall measure and appreciate the love of God as ‘manifested’ in Christ (John 4:9) just in proportion as we realize the depths to which Jesus descended to redeem us. How fitting and comforting it was of the Father that in this first public manifestation of the humiliation of His Son, He should bear witness by a voice from heaven to His perfect satisfaction and pleasure in Him! ‘And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water, and lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him’ and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, this is My Son, the Beloved, (N.V.), in whom I am well pleased.’ Jesus is the true David of whom the Psalms and other scriptures speak so often. David means beloved; hence the Father says, ‘This is My Son, the Beloved.’ My Son because manifesting My nature, love; the Beloved because He is the great anti-type, the true David, the MAN after God’s own heart, of whom the shepherd king of Israel was only a shadow. And let it be remembered, too, that in all this, Christ was our ‘Forerunner’, our Leader and Captain. Those who will follow in His footsteps will also come ‘in due season’ to the ‘perfect man,’ God’s beloved because in God’s image. They, too, shall at last come to opened heavens, the dove-like Spirit and the approving voice. The way to life and perfection is to through humiliation, suffering, self-crucifixion and death; and the Father takes care that we are not tempted above what we are able to bear, but gives us encouragement and blessing in the way so that we are enabled even to ‘glory in tribulation’ in the midst of the trial as well as in the prospect of final deliverance.
Let it be noticed also that in this descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ we have another instance of His loneliness. When the Holy Spirit came upon the church, it was in the form of ‘tongues of fire,’ but upon Christ, and upon no other. He came in the form of a dove. The dove is the symbol of harmlessness and morning innocence. Matt. 10:16; Isa. 59:11. Christ alone of human beings could be said to be ‘holy, harmless, undefiled’. He also was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, although perfectly innocent. Hence the Spirit descends upon Him in the form of a dove. Fire is a symbol of purification and transformation. It consumes the dross and tin of sin, the wood, hay and stubble of ignorance and folly. ‘The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.’
Everyone shall be salted with - baptized in fire and in the Holy Spirit. Hence the Spirit came upon the disciples in a fiery form because they needed purification, purging and transformation. But Jesus had no need of such baptism as He ‘knew no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.’ The dove was the proper symbol for the Spirit to assume when He descended upon Him, the meek and lowly, gentle, tender and unresisting Jesus.
Thus, far Jesus had been alone, absolutely alone in this respect. But soon others shall ‘come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto the perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ’. And then they with Christ shall subdue and tame the race until at last all shall be imbued with the loving Spirit of Christ, and ‘the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.’ For ‘except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,’ and ‘the kingdom of heaven is not neat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
We pass now to consider in this same connection the temptation of Christ. Here again He was alone, literally so, having no other companions than ‘wild beast.’ Mark 1:13. Why must Jesus be tempted alone? Let us ask first, why was He tempted at all. You will notice in the account that it says that ‘Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.’ This temptation then was under the direct guidance of the Spirit and hence was, of course, necessary and important. What was the reason of it? We have already indicated it in our consideration of the baptism of Christ. It was needful that He should be ‘tempted in all points like as we are.’ For only after being ‘tempted and tried’ shall we receive the ‘crown of life’ (Jas. 1:12), and this is no less true of the ‘Head’ than of the ‘member’ of the elect body. Jesus was made perfect through suffering, (Heb. 2:10), even as ‘they that are Christ’s’ are perfected, (1 Pet. 5:10), and now, ‘in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to suffer them that are tempted.’ But why must He be tempted alone. Because He was the only one in all God’s universe, who at that time was ‘perfect’ condition. Jesus was ‘the beginning of the creation of God,’ the pattern man after whom all the rest are to be fashioned; rest of the race ‘ every man in his own order,’ band or case. Ah, who can tell the horror of that forty days alone in the desert ‘with the wild beasts,’ exposed to all the power and malice of ‘the prince o this world.’ The temptation of Christ was no farce as some theologians would have us believe, but an awful reality; a fiery, fierce ordeal for the holy Son of man. In Smith’s Bible Dictionary we are told that ‘Christ’s temptation was the trial of one who could not possibly have fallen.’ If Christ knew this to be true, then He was not tempted at all -- much less ‘tempted like as we’ -- any more than you can tempt a person to fly or to any other impossibility. Not thus do the scriptures teach. This trial at the commencement of His ministry, and the continual trial all the way through, was to Jesus a dread reality, fearful in its progress and uncertain in its result. We may be sure of this from what Paul says of Christ in Heb. 5:7-9. “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him out of (N.V. margin) death, was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered, and, being made perfect, He became the author of eternal (aionian) salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Surely this passage shows us something of the awful reality of the trial of Jesus. He knows, as all believers know, what it is to offer up prayers and supplications with strong crying, tears and fear, and to learn obedience through much suffering. This passage also shows another thing, confirmatory of a truth we have already noticed, viz., that Christ was in a condition of death while here in the flesh. The Father saved Him, not from death, but out of death, a death in which He was already involved and out of the depths of which He offered up His prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, ‘fearing’ lest He should never be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Acts 13:34. But God ‘made known to Him the ways of life’ and ‘saved Him out of death’, ‘anointing Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows’ and constituting Him a ‘priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’, so that now ‘He ever liveth to make intercession for us.’ ‘Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and for the ages.
Many other instances in Christ’s history show His loneliness. In His heart experience and inner life He was alone, absolutely, so far as any human companionship was concerned. There was no one who could sympathize with Him. His disciples could not understand the import of His plainest speech. See, for example, Mark 8:31-33. Jesus told them how He was to suffer many things and be rejected and killed and the third day rise.
‘And He spake that saying openly (plainly). And peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him.’ But Jesus turned and looked upon His disciples and rebuked Peter, saying, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.’ Why was it that the disciples did not believe what Christ told them? It was not because they did not understand what He said, nor was it because they mistrusted His word, but they thought Him mistaken, downcast, ‘blue’, as we say, and that He was only talking that way because He felt depressed and discouraged. Peter’s rebuke was meant not so much to chide Him as to cheer Him up. ‘Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee,’ as though he should say, ‘O no, you must not talk so, Lord. Nothing so awful as that will happen; it will come out right.’ They could not enter into His feelings or sympathize with His experience or even accept what He said. And Jesus could not explain it to them; they were not able to bear it. He must bear His isolation as best He could alone, with no companion but His Father.
Sometimes He seemed to chide them for their dullness, as. ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,’ or as He said on another occasion to the twelve, ‘Are ye also yet without understanding?’ It seems as though Christ longed for some human friend to whom He could open all His heart, and spoke as above, not impatiently, but sorrowfully and regretfully as time and again He was disappointed. Not even the beloved John understood the Lord or could enter into His feelings. On one occasion this disciple was very angry with some who did not receive Christ, and he said, ‘Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them even as Elijah did?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked him, and said, ‘Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’ How little of the mission of Christ did these disciples understand! How little of His Spirit did they possess!
Truly, Jesus was alone. There was no one to share His joys and hopes and fears, or to help and encourage Him by counsel, advice or sympathy. The only companion He had was His Father. He indicates this when He says, ‘I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me.’ John 8:32. He speaks as though He would have been alone had it not been for the Father; as though He were His only companion; and we can see that such was the literal fact. There was absolutely no being in God’s universe, excepting God Himself, who could be a true heart companion to the Lord Jesus Christ, because there was no other being like Him, none whoever had the same experience or knew anything about it. His disciples, even the most loving of them, were of another spirit and knew nothing of the interior life of Jesus. The only relief from this absolute isolation that Jesus had was communication with His Father. Hence we read that ‘in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place and there prayed.’ Again we read that ‘He withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed.’ Again we read that ‘He withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed,’ and yet again, ‘He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.’
Were not these lonely seasons of prayer in the solitary places, in the wilderness and in the mountain, while yet the world was sleeping,--were they not the times when into the ear of the eternal Father, the only sympathizer and companion He had, Jesus poured His supplications with strong crying and tears?’ Ah! Who can fathom the depths of agony that Jesus endured from this sense of utter isolation? No wonder that, notwithstanding His weariness from His constant travel and toil, He was gladly willing to forego His sleeping rest for a few hours’ converse with His Father and only friend. And let me ask the reader at this point, -- would you know more of Christ’s interior life? Do you sometimes wonder what these tearful prayers and supplications were that Jesus offered up? Would you like to know what He actually said? Very few Christians know that these intense petitions of Christ -- some of them at least -- are recorded, and yet such is the fact. They are in the book of Psalms. Yes, they are recorded there, many of them. The Psalms of David are prophetical of Christ. The personal pronoun ‘I’ in many of them refer not to the typical but to the anti-typical David, the true Beloved. See for example
Psa. 18:16-24, 43, 44;
Psa. 40 and 45, and many others. In many of these Psalms the prayers of Jesus are recorded, laying open the heart, the interior life of the lonely Son of man. See for example
Psa. 22:1-8, 14-31; (with verse 22 compare Heb. 2:12);
Psa. 69:1-3, 7-9, 13-26; (with verse 26 compare Isa. 53:10;
Psa. 88 and especially
Read these Psalms, noticing how they are referred to in other parts of the Bible and applied to Christ and you will recognize that they are the inspired prophecies of Christ’s heart experience, the record of His prayers, supplications and fears, when alone with God. Is it not blessed thus to know something of Christ’s inner experience and to see how truly He was tempted in all points as we?
Now notice especially Matt. 14:22-27. Seeking for needed rest and quiet, Jesus had departed into a desert place, but the people, eager to hear His word and to receive His good offices, persistently followed Him, and ‘Jesus was moved with compassion, and healed their sick’ and taught them all day. When evening came, He miraculously feed them and sent them away, also sending His disciples away by ship across the sea to the other side. Then ‘He went up into a mountain apart to pray, and when the evening was come, He was there ‘alone.’ How sadly suggestive is all this! It appears that Jesus was desirous of being left alone. The clamor and noise of multitudes were distressing to Him, though He endured it that He might minister to their wants. Even His disciples with their carnal ambitions, their strifes as to who should be greatest, and selfish aspirations after the highest places in His kingdom, would become at times ‘an offense’ unto Him. He sends them all off; then, retiring to a solitary mountain, ‘a mountain apart’ -- as though he would seek the deepest solitudes of inanimate nature as well as relief from the noisy strifes of men -- He is ‘alone’ in prayer. How intensely pathetic and touching are the surroundings -- a desert place on the shores of a restless sea, a solitary mountain, night, the toil-worn Savior of mankind alone in prayer? O, blessed Lord, Thou wast ever ready to comfort and help the needy and suffering, but who, O who, could comfort Thee, Thou Man of sorrows? Nearly the night He remains alone and then hastens to join His disciples. Passing down the mountain and across the intervening desert shore, He comes to the margin of the sea. Without a moment’s hesitation He steps upon the liquid element and passes on as though on solid ground. Again how striking the situation! The wind was high (verse 32). The waves were rough and boisterous. The sky was dark and lowering. Yet Jesus presses calmly on over the tumultuous waves, stepping from crest to crest, straight across the pathless waste to the little ship containing His beloved disciples, struggling with wind and waves in the far distance. As Tennyson, when a school boy, said of Christ’s miracle of changing the water into wine, ‘The conscious water knew its Lord, and blushed’, so in this instance we may well imagine that the conscious water knew its Lord, Lord of the elements even in His humiliation, and though all around the waves ran mad and foaming, yet around the Savior they hushed their tumultuous, kissing His toil worn feet in loving reverence as though dumbly acknowledging His divine supremacy. That lonely walk on the dark water amid the tumbling, storm-swept billows fittingly symbolizes Christ’s entire earth life. Alone amid the darkness of a living death, He walked among the restless children of men, a King of kings, and yet the servant of all; Master of all forces, and yet resisting none; Possessor of all power, and yet in self-forgetful love using that power only for the good of others. And now He nears the ship and is dimly described by the toiling disciples, who, thinking that they see a phantom, cry out in fear; but quickly from the loving Savior comes the cheerful assurance, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid,’ -- always cheerful and comforting to others no matter how sad His lonely hours might be. Then He entered into the ship and ‘the wind ceased; and they that were in the ship came and worshiped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.’ ‘Yea, verily!’ Our hearts respond, ‘Thou are the Son of God. In glad homage we bow before Thee, as ultimately ‘every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Thou art Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
There are many other instances in the life of Christ that indicate His loneliness, especially those passages that show how He was misunderstood by others, even by His one disciples. For example, see Matt. 11:13-19; Mark 4:36-41 and 8:13-21; John 6:59-71, etc., etc. Jesus very seldom made any attempt to explain, for the simple reason that they could not understand. See John 12:36-41. But we have not space to notice these points further. We pass to the most striking illustrations of the thought we are considering as brought out in Christ’s passion. Gethsemane, Gabbatha, Golgotha, were the final witnesses of cumulative intensity of His loneliness.
Christ was alone in the Garden. All His disciples accompanied Him thitherward on that dark night of His arrest. And now notice how strangely the Savior acted, as though longing for human sympathy and reaching out for it, although at the same time, He knew it was not for Him. On entering the garden, He leaves eight of His disciples as though conscious they could not help Him; but still longing for human sympathy He takes with Him Peter, James and John, the three who came the nearest to being companions to Him, and retires to a distant part of the garden. Then, instead of taking these three disciples into His confidence and telling them what was on His mind and praying together, as one would suppose was His intention, He seems again to realize how vain it is to look for human help, and, simply commanding them to watch, He leaves them to pass through His agony alone. No human ear heard His agonizing ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.’ No human eye saw His anguish, and bowed form and the bloody sweat. As He had been obliged to drink the cup of death alone during all His ministry, so now He must wring out the bitter dredge alone. His disciples could not even watch with Him one hour, but stupidly slept while Jesus wept and prayed. And when His enemies came and arrested Him and carried Him off to His mockery of a trial, they all ‘forsook Him and fled.’ Alone He must meet the hatred of the scribes and Pharisees; alone He must bear the insults of Herod and his men of war. The spitting and scourging, the crown of thorns and purple robe, the mockery and shame must all be borne by Him alone as best He could without human help of sympathy. But on the cross Jesus touched the lowest depths of His agonizing loneliness. We have seen that during His ministry, His only companion was His Father. This was the one solace of the Savior’s earth life -- to get alone with His Father. But on the cross His Father deserted him so that Jesus was more absolutely alone for that one supreme moment than ever being was before or since, or ever will be. Can you not perceive the awful significance of the Savior’s cry, ‘My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me? -- as though he would say, ‘ I have been alone, excepting Thee, for Thou hast forsaken Me.’ This awful experience was the bitter dregs of the cup that Jesus drank from in the garden, crying out, ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.’ But it was not possible. He may not be spared this fierce trial. He must be made ‘in all things like unto His brethren.’ Their natural condition is expressed by such scriptures as ‘far from God,’ ‘without God in the world,’ God is not in all their thoughts,’ etc. Jesus must know this experience that, being ‘tempted’ in all points like as we, He might be able to suffer them that are tempted.’ And so on the cross there is a total separation for a time between the Father and the Son. And the agonizing loneliness of Christ reaches its culmination.
O blessed Jesus! We may not be able to fathom the depths of Thy sufferings, but our tears may fall at the remembrance of them. Our hearts may throb in sympathy now that we can appreciate something of their significance, and with gladness we may fill up that which is behind of Thy afflictions. (Col. 1:24), that, thus being made in some small degree ‘partakers of Thy sufferings,’ we may by and by become ‘partakers of the glory that is to be revealed.’ I Peter 4:13 and verse 1.
Is it not a sad pleasure thus to see something of the interior life of Christ, and so to creep nearer to His heart of love and to enter more fully into ‘the fellowship of His sufferings?’ Shall we murmur if, following in His footsteps, we sometimes feel a keen sense of isolation and loneliness as we are made to realize the truth of Christ’s saying, ‘Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.’? Should we not rather, count such as experience all joy?
Jas. 1:2. O ye scattered children of God, His jewels, take these thoughts for your comfort and you will be able to rejoice even in your loneliness, knowing that thereby you are made ‘partakers of His sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.’ I Pet. 4:12, 13.
Is it not plain also that Christ’s three and thirty years on earth was a living death -- the ‘real’ death He suffered after sacrificing His pre-existent life? And out of that death (Heb. 5:7, N.V. margin) He was not delivered until God raised Him from the dead, now no more to return to corruption. Acts 13:34. When was Jesus in the corruptible state? Not while He was in the grave. For we are expressly told that He ‘saw no corruption’ there. Acts 13:37. Yet He was in the corruptible state at some period of His earthly career, for He was raised from the dead ‘no more to return to corruption.’ He was in the corruptible condition all the while He tabernacled in the flesh, in the ‘bondage of corruption’ like the ‘whole creation,’ for He was ‘made sin’ and a ‘curse’ for us. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13. And this was the corruption -- the corruption of this fallen state -- and He was raised from, now no more to return thereto.
In conclusion, I will notice one more passage that, incidentally, confirms the above view. Read Isa. 53:9 and notice the margin on the word death, that it is plural -- deaths. Is not that rather curious? ‘In His deaths’! Did Christ die more than one death? Yes! We have seen that He entered a condition of death when He laid down His pre-existent life and became incarnate, and He also died physically. Now the passage above cited would not be true if it referred only to His physical death. For He did not make His grave with the wicked in His physical death. He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, who was a ‘good man and a just,’ ‘who also himself waited for the kingdom of God,’ and was one of Jesus disciples. Luke 23:50, 51 and Matt. 27:57. Yet, He made His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His deaths. How clear this passage is in the light of the view presented above! When He laid down His pre-existent life and entered into the charnel house of this fallen state, ‘He made His grave with the wicked.’ And when He died physically, He was laid in the tomb of the wealthy
Arimathean and thus made His grave ‘with the rich.’ Thus the deeper we dig, the more carefully we search, the more firmly is the truth established. We need not be afraid of the most thorough investigation if we are seeking the truth. The smallest particulars, as well as the more weighty propositions, will equally be found to be in the most perfect accord with any individual truth, and each separate truth will strengthen every other truth.
(This was sent to us from June Ramsey from her ministry, in Texas. We found it to be interesting and informative. Thought you folks out there might enjoy reading it also.)