Over the last two weeks we have seen that Christ’s death involved physical pain and the mental pain of guilt. This week we see that what made this pain worse was that Jesus was abandoned and faced his suffering alone.
Firstly, the disciples abandoned Jesus completely. In the Biblical record we see Judas as the first disciple to abandon Jesus. But as soon as Jesus was arrested we read that ‘Then everyone deserted him and fled.’ (Mark 14:50). Mark does record that a young man continued to follow Jesus after his arrest but ‘When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.’ The only disciple who followed at a distance to Jesus’ trial was Peter. However when Peter was challenged regarding his allegiance by a maid he said ‘“I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.’ (Mark 14:68) Peter distanced himself by word and by physical presence from Jesus. But it didn’t end there. When challenged again, Peter denied it once more. Then at the third challenge ‘He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about”’ (Mark14:71). So we see Jesus totally deserted by his disciples – openly betrayed by one, openly denied by another and fled from by the rest.
Secondly we see Jesus abandoned by God the Father. As he hung on the cross Jesus cries with a loud voice ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark15:34) signally that God the Father had turned his face away from his Son. This was a far worse abandonment than that of his disciples. To be cut off from the Father who was his strength and joy throughout his earthly ministry would have been completely terrifying.
Thus at the cross Jesus faced the guilt of millions of sins all alone. We know something of the pain it is to be rejected by others. Yet when people reject us, they often have some grounds to do it because we are never completely loving to those around us. On the other hand, Jesus showed nothing but love to his disciples and his Father. To be abandoned by those Jesus had shown unfailing love towards would have compounded the pain in a way that we will never know.
Yet even today people still continue to abandon Christ in spite of his love towards them. People have still not learnt how loving Christ is and responded appropriately. My hope and prayer is that you have understood what Christ has done and not abandoned him, but have turned to him in repentance, faith and love.