As Jesus awaited his arrest and crucifixion, he knew his coming death would break the hearts of his followers. Can you imagine walking on this earth beside Jesus, feeling comfort in his presence, courage in his power, and peace in his protection? What security in trusting your life to someone the wind and waves obeyed.
But what if he died?
Would I have watched him die, to see if it could really happen—the Son of God, killed by human hands? Would I have hidden?
One thing I know: I would have mourned losing his presence. To lose the physical presence of my Lord would have shattered my soul.
I would have felt very alone.
Right now, we are mourning the loss of community. Hugs. Handshakes. Board games around a table. Holding hands in prayer. There are people we miss, and our hearts long for human connection. But we carry on in the choice to stay away from people because we are helping save lives. Just this week, the estimated total deaths in our country dropped drastically because we continue to isolate ourselves. Physically separating ourselves from others is saving people’s lives, but it is not easy.
When Jesus left the world, he knew his followers would feel alone, and he had compassion for them. Loneliness is a part of the human experience, and Jesus not only experienced it, he redeemed it.
On the cross, Jesus knew loneliness. Yet he did what only he could do in order to save our lives. Alone, he suffered what we cannot comprehend so that we would never be alone in this world, or in eternity. Jesus couldn’t stand the thought of eternity without us. So he walked a road no other human could walk.
When I struggle with fear or uncertainty or suffering, when I feel lost or alone in any way, I pour over the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples on the night of the last supper. Jesus realized his body would be in a tomb when his followers needed his touch and the presence of his comfort the most. On Passover, Jesus devoted the evening to comforting and teaching those who would mourn his death. Beginning in John 13, Jesus washes their feet. He enjoys their company. There is communion. He tells them the world will hate them. He tells them he will go away, but that their sorrow will turn to joy. He prays for them, and for us.
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22)
Many of us feel alone right now. Maybe you are afraid, or grieving, or lost. Maybe you are weary of doing good. Waiting is hard. Loneliness is not easy. Jesus understands. He is not ignorant of the human condition. It is one of the very reasons he came, to suffer as we would. And he came to save us so he could be with us always. Jesus prayed to the Father, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)
Today, we are separated and isolated and social-distanced, but we are not alone. The love and presence of Jesus are within us if we believe in him. He is real.
Jesus died but then he came back to life, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to comfort and counsel his followers who he calls family.
If you never believed this before, believe it now. Having faith in Jesus is not scary. He gave his life for yours because he loved you and wanted to save you from this fallen, broken world.
He alone did what only he could do because he didn’t want you to be alone.
He is with us now.
And he is coming again.
May that be our joy in times of sorrow—an eternity with a loving Savior who offers us himself and a place in his family. Today, because he lives, I have comfort in his presence, courage in his power, and peace in his protection.
On this Mandy Thursday, I pray the peace and presence of Christ be with you. Amen.