During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
Jesus in Isolation
Hanging from a cross in mortal agony, Jesus was completely alone.
He experienced dehumanizing social isolation. The crowds who applauded him with palm branches and Hosannas on Palm Sunday now loathed him with whips and shouts of “Crucify! Crucify!” on Good Friday.
His own disciples betrayed him, double-crossed him, and abandoned him. One of His closest friends, Peter, repeatedly denied and disowned Him. To save his own skin, he was completely ashamed of Jesus and wanted nothing to do with Him.
At the time Jesus needed their fellowship most they turned on Him. They were gone.
The only ‘friends’ keeping Him company were two criminals writhing in pain on crosses to his left and right, and they were busy calling down curses on Him.
He was completely alone.
But Jesus’ deepest pain was His spiritual isolation. God turned His face away from His Son. Though Jesus never sinned, He became sin for us. The guilt and punishment for our sin were laid on Him. As a condemned sinner, He became a curse for us too. He became a vile, ugly, wretched, horrid creature in the eyes of the holy God and Father who is too pure to look upon sin.
So the Beloved Son of God became also, at the same time, the discarded Outcast, a Reject, an alienated Stranger. He became the Plague. He said, “I am a worm, and not a man.” (Psalm 22:6)
God’s presence left Him. Total darkness came upon Jesus at the cross. Jesus cried out the terrifying words of Psalm 22, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?“
He was absolutely alone.
Stretched out on a cross, hanging somewhere between heaven and earth, he was rejected by both heaven and earth. It was hell.
We experience some level of isolation today because of a plague. We can’t go to church. We can’t go to family gatherings. We can’t go to work. We can’t go to school. We can’t even go to the park! But our isolation doesn’t begin to compare with Jesus’ isolation. Our sorrows can’t begin to measure up to His sorrows.
Jesus suffered His horrible isolation for us. Because of our sin, we all experience deep isolation. Spiritual isolation. We are far away from God, strangers to Him. And social isolation. We experience the pain of conflict, betrayal and brokenness in our relationships with people.
Without Jesus coming to save us from our sins, our lives are headed for ultimate, endless isolation from God and people. Jesus said that hell is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Hell is a place where God is present only in holy wrath, and where people are present only to degrade and abuse one another.
But in His great love and pity for us, God sent His Son who willingly and lovingly took on Himself this ultimate darkness of absolute isolation from God and man. He made it His very own to save us from it.
He did this to take us out of dreadful isolation and into joyful relation – friendship with God and people. That’s what Good Friday is about. If you put your trust and hope in Jesus who died in deepest darkness for sinners, He will bring you to God to enjoy eternal fellowship with God. And He will bring you into His family to enjoy blessed fellowship with His Church.
As Christians we often struggle in our relationship with God, and sometimes feel like He is forgetting us or even forsaking us. May you feel that way right now. But you can be totally sure of this – because of Jesus who was isolated from God in your place, God will never, ever abandon you. Jesus took that from you. God is always with you even when you can’t see or feel Him. Let us trust Him to be near at all times.
Sometimes we struggle socially in our relationship with His family, the Church, and with friends and relatives. People disappoint us. We disappoint them. Sin gets in the way. But you can be totally sure of this – because of Jesus who was isolated from people, God always has a place for us in His family. Let us believe that – and make much of that!
As you remember Jesus’ death and resurrection this year, give thanks to Him especially for His isolation. Because of Him, you can be sure that in your isolation you always belong – you belong to God and His people.