Jesus’ journey, from His temptation in the desert to His death on the Cross, began and ended alone. Surprising, when you consider how He ministered to so many people in between.
Luke tells us in his Gospel that at one time, a “crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another,” to get to Jesus, and yet He “began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard…'”. (12:1)
Jesus came for all people, but He knew and related to them each personally.
“Someone touched me,” He said another time, as “the crowds almost crushed him.” I imagine everyone stared in stunned silence as Jesus stopped to reassure the woman, who had reached out desperately for His cloak, saying “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” (8:40-48)
Jesus knew all about people, knew them individually and intimately, and He cared for them that way. Would we really expect anything less from a God who took on our flesh and washed people’s feet? But it surprises us again and again, and leaves us speechless.
And sometimes we forget it.
At Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples, after all that He had taught them and even as He was serving them His body and blood in the bread and the wine, the men dissolved into an argument about which of them was considered to be the greatest. (22:24)
“You are those who have stood by me in my trials,” He reminded them. “And I confer on you a kingdom…”. (22:28) They may have lost sight of Jesus, but His vision of them never wavered.
Jesus, suffering servant Savior that He was, saw it all coming: how the same crowds that shouted “Hosanna!” would soon shout “Crucify!”, and how his disciples would sleep through His time of greatest need and then flee from the scene of His arrest, and how Simon Peter would deny even knowing Him – three times – after professing his undying devotion just hours before.
Our Risen Lord sees all of the ways that you and I will lose sight of Him too, in the crush of life, and this comforts us in Lent as we gaze intently upon His body, broken for our sin, on the Cross.
Jesus prayed for Peter on their last night together (22:32). And the Gospel of John records how He prayed for the disciples (17:6-19) – and for us! – that night too (17:20-26). Jesus saw it all coming, how they (and we) would go on to build The Church, the Kingdom of God on earth. And He has promised to walk faithfully with us in it all, forgiving and healing us, guiding and strengthening us, by the power of His Spirit, along the way.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…,” He said, before He ascended into heaven. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)