by Gerard J. Stanley, Sr.
Jesus Christ endured the emotional and physical hardships of His passion alone. Though surrounded throughout by friends, foes and crowds of raucous strangers, He suffered alone.
After entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and being cheered as the “King of the Jews,” Jesus retreated to Bethany to be alone with His disciples. He spoke to them about His impending death, but they could not comprehend His words. He was alone in His understanding of what was going to happen and why.
Jesus celebrated the Passover Feast, His Last Supper, in a room full of disciples, but throughout, He was alone in the knowledge of His impending betrayal, abandonment and death. Even as they communed bodily with the Lord, His disciples did not fully grasp what was happening. They could not yet understand, even a little bit, what the events of that evening really meant.
Jesus was alone in His prayers to His Father as He anguished in the Garden of Gethsemane. The friends he begged to “remain here, and watch with me” fell asleep, offering Him no solace in His solitary torment. After pleading with His Father to “remove this cup” from Him, He resigned Himself to undergo arrest, trials, scourging, crucifixion and death alone.
He would be betrayed by a friend’s kiss and abandoned by His disciples, one of whom would vehemently deny ever having known Him. They would all scatter in the darkness and leave Him — alone — with His enemies.
Jesus was accused of blasphemy in a trial He underwent alone. No lawyer defended Him; no friendly witness stood up to testify on His behalf. He was scourged by jeering strangers, enduring this punishment alone. He faced Pontius Pilate — alone — and was condemned to death — alone. He was paraded through the streets of the city as a show of force and intimidation — alone.
Where were His friends and disciples in all of this? Where were the crowds of followers that, such a short time ago, wouldn’t give Him a moment’s peace?
Jesus was crucified, and He hung on the cross until death — alone. No one would or could help Him as He cried out in His agony, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He gave up His last breath to His Father and was buried in an unused tomb — alone.
There are many aspects of Christ’s Passion that deserve our attention: His physical suffering, His spiritual agony and His deep compassion for those around Him, even in His pain. As we marvel at these, however, let us not fail to remember also the utter aloneness He experienced — for in it, we find great comfort.
Jesus understands loneliness. He understands sadness. He understands suffering.
When we feel alone and overwhelmed by worldly struggles, we can truly cast all our anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7). He knows what it is to be alone, and He cares for us in our loneliness. Surrounded by His grace and carried along by His compassion, we don’t ever need to be alone. He is with us.
Gerard J. Stanley, Sr., M.D., is a physician who has practiced family medicine for 35 years. He is the author of He Was Crucified: Reflections on the Passion of Christ (CPH) and the article “With His Wounds,” which appeared in the April 2019 print issue of The Lutheran Witness.