Alyssa Sellers

Jesus: Lonely Like Me

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Salt Lake

In Still: Notes on a Mid-faith Crisis, Lauren F. Winner talks about her faith being somewhere in the middle; not in the excitement of her conversion but in the numb monotony of the middle. In one section she is reading her Bible in an art museum and she writes what she thought at that time:

“The story ends with Luke’s telling us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. ‘A little like escaping to the quiet of a museum,’ I think. What can it mean for a place to be lonely?
‘A place, lonely like Jesus? Lonely like me?
Maybe I can make my loneliness into an invitation – to Jesus – that he might withdraw into me and pray.’” (page 141)

I have been thinking a good deal about Jesus’ loneliness. About how often he was misunderstood, even by his best friends.

Around that time I read chapters 14 through 17 of Matthew and was struck once again at how hurtful it must have been for Jesus to be constantly misunderstood. I reflected at how hurt and lonely I felt after being misunderstood one day last Spring. So much so that I was perhaps too brazen crossing busy intersections because at that moment of pain I really didn’t care what happened to me.These four chapters of Matthew begin with Jesus trying to retreat to a lonely place, perhaps to grieve the loss of his friend and cousin John the Baptizer. Soon, though, people found him. Jesus took pity, healed them and then fed the over 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus finally does get that retreat with God and afterwards walks on water to a boat where the disciples were experiencing strong winds and waves. This is where Peter walks out in faith toward Jesus, then remembers the harsh wind and the waves around him and falters.

A little bit later Jesus feeds another 4,000 people this time with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Soon after Jesus warns folks about the yeast of the Pharisees. The disciples, misunderstanding Jesus, thought he was scolding them for forgetting bread for their trip. This is how I translate what Jesus says in Matthew 16, “Seriously. You think I’m worried about bread? I just feed over 5,000 people, twice, with one person’s sack lunch. Come On! This isn’t about bread. It’s about gross false teaching.”

Just after this Peter answers wisely when Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter got it! “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” But quickly forgets and falters once again. And then there is the transfiguration. I really love what Oswald Chambers wrote about this in the June 16 entry of My Utmost for His Highest, a reflection on John 15:13.

“It is far easier to die than lay down the life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling. We are not made for brilliant moments, but we have to walk in the light of them in ordinary ways. There was only one brilliant moment in the life of Jesus and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration; then He emptied Himself the second time of His glory, and came down into the demon-possessed valley. For thirty-three years Jesus laid out His life to do the will of His Father , and John says, ‘we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.’ It is contrary to human nature to do it.”

To me the remarkable thing about Jesus is not that he died a cruel, painful, death, it’s that he LIVED 33 years among people who truly never really got him. And he didn’t give up on them. Jesus kept on loving them even when they exasperated him; even when they made him sad or forced him to shout. He was patient with them. He was kind. He endured. He never failed.

He retreated and found his alone time with God, the one who created him, the one who KNEW him and he LIVED.

Long before his brutal death on a cross Jesus tells his followers to take up their crosses and follow him. This imagery evoked was of a prisoner on a march to his death. We are all prisoners marching toward death; prisoners to our pride, to our self-serving choices, to our independence, to our greed, to our lust and to so much more. Jesus knows this and yet he continually asks us to follow him. Jesus knows about our struggles; knows what it is to be lonely and he asks us to follow him, he asks us to LIVE.


One thought on “Jesus: Lonely Like Me

  1. Thinking about Jesus as perpetually misunderstood, yet loving and patient with those who misunderstood him, makes me love him even more. What will I do today in response to that love?


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