John 16:32, "Behold, the hour
cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and
shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
This morning, society has become stricken with the mentality of not leaving
anyone out. Today's political climate is driven with thoughts of equality and
togetherness. Looking at the high success rates these types of policies have in
the mind's of the populace, it is not hard to determine why the programs excite
the hearers. When you want to promote financial success without the hard work,
you tickle the fancy of people's greed, thereby finding a popular platform. When
you want to promote equal everything for everyone, you tickle people's
complacency and laziness at being able to have things without working for them.
Likewise, when you promote no one being left behind in any regard, that pacifies
one of man's biggest fears: isolation. Death and/or dying is probably feared by
the human mind more than anything else, but being alone and isolated can run
pretty high on the "fear list" that man has.
One of the things that Christ always promoted was the honour, name, recognition,
and respect due His Father. No one had to wonder what Jesus Christ thought of
God the Father, as Christ's language about Him and to Him positively swells with
the love and fellowship that Christ had with Him. In our verse, Christ has
finished some heavy teachings over the past three chapters shortly before He
goes into the garden, is apprehended, and subsequently put to death. These
teachings are full of fresh and relevant information for the disciples to cling
to even after He goes away, but Christ finishes the discussion by foretelling
what they would do to Him. Christ plainly states that they will forsake Him,
leave Him alone, and He even previously foretold Peter that Peter would deny
Christ three times by the cock's crow.
In the midst of such a sorrowful foretelling, Christ peels back yet another
layer of His relationship with the Father. Even though His closest followers
would leave Him alone, He was not alone. Even though men who pledged to go to
death with Him would ultimately forsake Him and deny Him, He was not alone.
Christ plainly said that though all men forsake Him, yet His Father was still
with Him. These words should strike comfort and consolation down into our souls,
for Christ is showing something by these words that we can cling to today. Even
though Christ's ultimate purpose in coming to this world was to put away our
sins (Matthew 1:21), there were some secondary things that He did while He was
here. One of the secondary things that He did was set up His church here in this
world. (Matthew 16:18) But, another secondary thing that He did was to live a
perfect example that shows us how to live, by being a faithful and merciful High
Priest that knows all the things that we feel. (Hebrews 2:14-18)
As Christ utters these words, He is showing, by example, that being alone,
forsaken, and isolated is not how men generally perceive it to be. What do we
perceive as isolation and/or being alone? No one is with us, no one calls, no
one writes, no communication of any kind, etc., etc. Christ shows the ultimate
example here of looking in the right place and direction to see whether or not
we are alone. What if our closest friends leave us, do not write, do not call,
etc.? Does that mean we are alone? Heavens no! Some people judge being alone by
circumstantial evidence, like one might say that Christ was alone when the
disciples forsook Him. However, Christ plainly refutes that notion by declaring
His "togetherness" with the Father.
The lesson for us today is simply this: though all men forsake us and leave us
alone, we are not alone in this old world. Christ Jesus the Lord and our Father
in heaven never have left us or forsaken us at any course or turn. Though we are
unfaithful to God over and over again, He is never unfaithful to us to forsake
us in this world, for He cannot deny Himself. (II Timothy 2:13) No matter where
our road of life goes, He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
(Hebrews 13:5) As comforting as Christ's example in our verse is coupled with
the blessed promise to us, it behooves us well to consider what "sealed" the
promise after Christ's life of example reached its conclusion.
When Christ stood where His people deserved to stand, He endured all the torment
and pain that was rightly ours. As He was suspended between heaven and earth,
the justice of Almighty God against the sin and sins of the elect family of God
were meted out on His blessed head. While Christ's words from the cross - as
recorded by Scripture - did not make things a reality, they do serve as
guideposts for us in rightly dividing the glorious work that He performed there.
For example, had He not said, "It is finished" (John 19:30), would His work have
been any less finished? Certainly, the answer is no, for His work stands with or
without our understanding of it. So likewise, even if Christ had never uttered
the words, "Eli, Eli, lama sabach tha ni?" (Matthew 27:46), the reality of the
situation would have remained. His God forsaking Him would have been just as
real. But, let us consider what that knowledge should do for us here.
He plainly stated in our verse above that the Father was with Him though all
men, disciples included, forsook Him. However, shortly before laying down His
life and dying a natural death, He tells us that God has forsaken Him. In this
sense, we could say that His Father forsook Him there. Even though His Father
was always with Him, smiled upon Him, honoured Him by thunderous declaration,
etc., His Father forsook Him here. Why? Consider how Christ addresses Him.
Christ calls Him "God" whereas every other instance of verbal speaking from
Christ to heaven entails "Father." This is the one and only time where Christ
audibly called the Father "God" instead of "Father." Every other instance marks
Christ as an obedient Son that has the closest of fellowship with His Father,
but in this monumental hour of agony and suffering, Christ is marked as an
offering for sin as sin itself. (II Corinthians 5:21)
The Father, in Divine Justice, has rained down arrows of wrath upon the head of
One that always pleased Him. (John 8:29) Does this make the Father unjust? No,
for it was our just wrath that God meted upon Him. During this hour of agony and
bitterness, Christ experiences something that we will never face, beloved. He
experiences isolation. As the Father forsakes Him after all men have left Him,
He endures not only the shame and bitterness of our sin, but He fully
experiences the abyss of isolation and being forsaken. Indeed, there were men
still gathered at Calvary, even during those dark hours, and certainly the
Father's presence was still there as the Righteous Judge against our sins, but
Christ felt the arrows of isolation that we will never face.
Dear ones, Christ's endurance at Calvary seals the promise with His precious
blood that though we may "feel" to be alone, we have never and will never
experience such a thing. The only One that can truly say He was ever alone is
Christ. Just as we will never face our old man's just desserts (separation from
God forever), so will we never face the isolated forsakenness that Christ
endured on our behalf. Whenever you feel alone, left out, or persecuted to
despair and grief, cling to His blessed words of example that He and His Father
are always with you. No doubt, minutes sometimes feel like days, and days
sometimes feel like weeks when we feel to be alone. Yet, how quickly can His
presence appear before us to show that not only is He here, He was never gone!
How quickly can those tears of fear and distress be wiped away when His
Spirit-felt presence says, "Be not afraid, it is I."