Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often went to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)
The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matt 21:9)
When the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them . . . “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They all answered, “Crucify him!” (Matt 27:17, 22)
When they needed healing, the crowds were with Him.
When He came to Jerusalem and they thought He would deliver them from Roman rule, the crowds were with Him.
But when their religious leaders had Him arrested and dragged before Pilate, the crowds were no longer with Him. He wasn’t even trying to defend Himself, so why would they defend Him? Jesus looked like just another link in a long chain of false messiahs. Disgusted, they yelled out their verdict: “Crucify him!”
Crowds aren’t known for their judgment. In this case, their disillusionment can be understood. This looked like anything but a victory unfolding.
Jesus had never been swayed by crowds. Whether they revered Him or reviled Him, He didn’t ever try to either please or placate a crowd. His only goal was to please His Father, the only One on whom he could rely. When the crowds ate up all the waking hours, instead of sleeping in, Jesus would go to lonely places to get the time He needed with His Father. It was those lonely times and places that strengthened Him and kept Him going.
Gethsemane was one of those lonely times and places. It’s impossible for me to imagine the extremes of anguish He suffered in anticipation of what was to come. Impossible for me, because whatever I might be called to endure, I will never be left or forsaken by my Father. Jesus knew the very worst thing that lay before Him was the terrifying emptiness of being separated from His Father as He took on the burden of the world’s sin. For the first and only time, He would be left devastatingly alone.
There were crowds at the cross, but Jesus was in the loneliest time and place in history. The One who mattered most to Him was not there. His physical suffering was excruciating, His spiritual suffering unfathomable. What seems most unfathomable of all is this: He did it for me. Not because I’m part of a crowd and get a blanket benefit, but because He loves me personally and was willing to die for me personally. It boggles my mind.
Because of the cross, I can be more than a conqueror. Because of the cross, I am convinced that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, no power, no entity, and nothing in all creation will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, my Lord. Because of Jesus, I will never have to go through anything without the presence of His Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus, I will one day go to live with Him forever.
Precious Lord and Savior, there are no words beautiful enough, deep enough, powerful enough to thank You for Who You are and what You have done for me. I pray that countless people will come to You for healing, and then let You fill their lonely times and places with the glory of Your salvation. In Jesus name I ask it. Amen.