An elderly person is discovered alone in his apartment in the middle of winter, having frozen to death because his heat had gone out. An elementary school child is friendless, due to emotional, social, mental, and-or physical deficiencies. A homeless person is found on the side of the road, having been physically abused—with no form of identification. What is one thing that all of the above have in common? They have experienced relational loneliness. Since God has created us with social needs that are met in relationships with others, when these are not met, people suffer the pain of various kinds. There are many lonely people in the world.
Yet, as I have reflected on Jesus’ experience during this Easter season, as He approached and hung on the cross, it has occurred to me that He experienced loneliness at a deeper level than any living person has ever experienced. As the time for His crucifixion drew near, He was mocked and rejected by the religious establishment of His day and He was rejected by His own people, who demanded that He be crucified. Beyond this, He was betrayed by one of His twelve disciples, denied by another, and the others ran away when He was arrested. To make matters worse, He knew beforehand that they were going to act as they did. Those, whom He loved dearly were nowhere to be found in His greatest time of need.
However, the worst element of Jesus’ loneliness was experienced while He was on the cross, as this Father, with whom He was intimately related since the beginning of time, actually forsook Him. This was the price He paid by bearing the sin of mankind on His body. At this point, He was not merely lonely; He was alone! I believe that this is what He most dreaded as His crucifixion drew near! And He did this out of obedience to His Father for our benefit! On a side note, I believe that the worse part of people spending eternity in hell is that God will be absent and they will be alone forever. When people laughingly say that they will enjoy hell because they will be there with their friends, they are deceived in their thinking.
When I consider this reality related to Jesus’ death on the cross, not only am I prompted to a deeper appreciation for what He did, but I am also challenged to ask these questions:
- How far am I willing to go in my surrender to Christ in my own life?
- How concerned am I for those around me, who are headed to an eternity without Christ?
- How attuned am I to those around me, who are experiencing loneliness in different ways?
What about you?