As we have followed the early life of Jesus and seen some of the challenges He faced from childhood through His teen years and to the beginning of His ministry, you might think we have covered the fact that He might have felt lonely. Many experiences in life leave us with multiple emotions to process and challenges to overcome simultaneously. Fear can be accompanied by loneliness, as can the feelings of rejection, isolation, our search for significance and identity, and spiritual battles. But today, we will look at an issue we all face at one time or another just as Jesus did- being alone. “Alone in a crowd” is also a situation which makes us avoid activities, for is there any lonelier time? “Loneliness is one of the most crushing human emotions.” It can lead to devastating behaviors. It leaves us lonely while touching shoulders with fellow loners. No wonder Jesus “withdrew to a lonely place to pray” so often (Luke 5:16).
Can we as Lysa TerKeurst suggests “look for the gift of being lonely, to develop in us [you] a deeper sense of compassion…” Let’s dig deep into Scripture and see if Jesus experienced this depth of loneliness and especially the feeling of being alone in a crowd. Just right off I bet if you know anything about the Word, you are thinking of His experience in the Garden of Gethsemane when even His closest followers could not stay awake while He prayed (Mark 14:32,39, 41, 50). And the times He went away alone to pray during His ministry (Matthew 12-13a, 23) and when He cries out from the cross due to feelings of abandonment (Mark 15:34). But, today, I want us to explore in the life of the Savior this idea so beautifully stated by Lysa TerKeurst: “There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when a girl (and for us, Jesus) chooses to look past being set aside to see God’s call for her (HIM) to be set apart.”
I Corinthians 10:13 is our reminder and Christ is our proof positive: “ No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” And King David penned these words that adequately express the feelings of everyone of us as we stand alone in a crowd:
Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses! (Psalm 25:16-17).
Let’s dig in and see what the life of Christ can teach us about how to choose to fight the enemy’s lie that we have been set aside and embrace the reality of being set apart. (Thank you Lysa TerKerust for the challenge!)
John 6:2,5, 15b, 25-66 and 7:11-15 are the scriptures to dig into. Get a highlighter and highlight every time you see the word crowd. Go ahead, we’ll wait while you dive into the Word. Now, notice what not who the crowd was interested in. Sad. Jesus was not the source of their interest. It was what He could do for them. The crowds chased Him down, not to be near Him and His teachings, but to get a blessing (food, healing, get a demon out, or have Jesus raise a loved one from the dead) or to harass Him! Have you ever really noticed this before? Yea, me either. I was always looking at how I wished I could have been there in the crowd to get a healing for myself or someone I love. I am as guilty as the crowd- more interested in what this God-man could do for me than a relationship with Him and what I might do for Him. Without RELATIONSHIP it is just a bunch of people in the same place, at the same time, and with the same purpose. Might as well be at a football game, alone in a crowd.
Jesus discerned the motives! He knew their hearts. He was aware He was laughed at and scorned (Mark 5:40a). The people just wanted a touch (Luke 6:19) and He knew they would soon cry out for His blood (Luke 23:18-25). Feeling used and abused is an understatement here don’t you think?
How did he cope? Hebrews 12:2 and Philippians 3:14 tell us. He kept His eye on the prize. Do you realize YOU are the prize? Jesus was our example of 1 John 2:15-16 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
Hebrews 10:10 says, “We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.” Jesus was set apart as a sacrifice!
What has the Lord of Glory set you apart to do? Yes, you may feel alone in the crowd. You are in very good company—-the Savior. The only response to the call of God is “Yes, Lord!” Was the call of Christ easy? Absolutely not. It was the hardest assignment any human being ever received. He was fully human and He has indeed “been tempted in all points as we are,” and yet could He have been any more compassionate? I do not think so. The Word said, “He healed all” (Matthew 15:30).
Living among men, He was lonely. In his time of dying He was alone. Buried in a tomb He lay alone. RISING He stood alone, and when He returns He will return on the clouds alone and every eye shall see Him for who He is! Because of this we need never be alone for He has given us His Holy Spirit to accompany us in relationship through our darkest days. His sacred purpose fulfilled! Thank you, Jesus.
Glorious Day by Casting Crowds
Treading on alone in a crowd