November 5, 2020

Psalm 102; Proverbs 18:24, Matthew 27:46, Mark 1:13, John 7:53, 8:1 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge is famous for having written a picturesque poem about an ancient mariner who set sail for a distant shore. An albatross followed the ship, mile after endless mile. The mariner shot it. At once the helpful wind died away, and the ship became becalmed. The sailors put two and two together. The albatross had brought the wind. Their messmate had killed the albatross. The wind had died with the bird.
In time the sailors began to die of thirst, and they died cursing the ancient mariner. At last he alone was left. There was nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to talk to. He was alone with his remorse. As he told the wedding guest he had waylaid, he was
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
Loneliness is indeed a visitor to be feared. And often, once it comes, it stays. There is the loneliness of a young man, far from home and friends, wandering the shops and malls of a foreign city, surrounded by people but never a one to be his friend. There is the loneliness of a childless widow wandering the rooms of a home that has now become a house filed with dead furniture, haunting memories, and crucified hopes. 
The psalmist had tasted loneliness. He describes himself as being a lost “pelican of the wilderness.” A pelican belongs on a seashore, not in the wild wastes of the wilderness.  He was like a lost owl, “like an owl of the desert,” he says. An owl belongs where there are forests and fields. He was like a lost sparrow, “a sparrow alone upon the house top.” A sparrow belongs in the noisy, busy fellowship of its kind (Ps. 102:6—7).
Jesus knew what it was like to be lonely, It came over Him overwhelmingly at times. In a graphic statement, unfortunately spoiled by a chapter division, we read: “Every man went unto his own house.” Jesus went to the Mount of Olives (John 7:53; 8:1). Foxes had their holes, and the birds of the air had their nests; but Jesus had nowhere to lay His head.
And who among us has ever fathomed the depths of His dreadful cry on the cross “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mate, 27:46). That was the end of his ministry. It had its echo in the dark days of His temptation at the beginning of His ministry. Mark tells us that Jesus “was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13). Perhaps Satan sent them, as the Romans sent starving beasts into the arena to devour the Christians.
If Satan imagined Jesus would be attacked by wild beasts, he was very much mistaken. They would be tame as lambs to Him and companions for awhile in His loneliness. Then, they, too, went away and the angels by that time, the Lord was at the end of His strength, starving from a forty-day fast, exhausted from a titanic battle with the Evil One. The beasts! The angels! Where was Peter? Where was John? Where were the Twelve? He was alone!
So now, as our Great High Priest in heaven, He has a personal know!edge of what it is like to be lonely! And He does something about it. On the level of His humanity. He shows us ways out of our loneliness. He who would have friends must show himself friendly, He says (Prov, 18:24). There are millions of lonely and needy people. We can seek out some of them to befriend. And on the level of His deity, He add: “And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Yes, indeed! What friend we have in Jesus all our griefs and pains to bear. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our faithful, unchangeable Friend.

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