Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 26. Chapter 26: Christ In Isolation

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 26. Chapter 26: Christ In Isolation

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SUBJECT: 26. Chapter 26: Christ In Isolation

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C H A P T E R T W E N T Y - S I X

Christ in Isolation

And they all forsook Him, and fled. And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth about his naked body; and they laid hold on him. And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.


ONE additional incident attending the capture of Jesus requires our attention. We refer to the flight of the disciples and also to that of the anonymous youth, who followed Jesus into the night, but who was beaten back from the Saviour by the ruffians of the band.

The question might arise: Why give any consideration to the flight of the disciples? That was a “characteristically human” thing to do. And is the fact that an unknown lad who followed the events at a distance, and who, perhaps because of a fight with the soldiers, had to flee, important enough to warrant separate consideration?

Many reply negatively at once, and do so unequivocally.

And it has been maintained that the last incident, particularly, has no special significance for the course of events, and that it is quite irrelevant to the suffering of the Lord.[1]

[1] Dr. J. A. C. Van Leeuwen, Het Evangelie Naar Markus, Korte Verklaring

We cannot be satisfied with this interpretation. Jesus’ large, sensitive heart was susceptible to every influence coming to it during His life. He is directly responsive to every stimulus. Moreover, the Gospel never tells anything that is irrelevant to the synthetic whole of the Scriptures.

Therefore we have the right—yes, and the duty—to give separate attention to the flight of the disciples, and to the young man who was brutally wrenched from the soul of Jesus. We must consider these and must do so all the more because we are concerned not with them as such but with the Christ.

We must know at once that the flight of the disciples and of the youth constituted suffering for Christ. We may not call these incidents trivial and colorless. On the contrary, the whole Bible and all of prophecy has bearing upon them. Just because prophecy was always fully informing the Spirit of Christ, He was able to point to this isolation Himself. He stated beforehand that all of His disciples would be offended because of Him, and that their forsaking Him would be a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah: I will smite the shepherd but the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. And it is for this fact that the flight of the disciples, typically human and readily understood as it may be, is included in the large context of prophecy which makes the little incident one of great importance. This is not a case in which some putterer has added a small feature to the great canvas of the Gospel. Prophecy is involved in it. Everything that is taken up into the stream of prophecy, everything buoyed up and propelled by the Eternal Spirit has its importance. The flight of the disciples has its function in the history of the passion.

We can easily infer from Zechariah that the scattering of the sheep was originally intended as a punishment with which God wanted to chastise His people for their unbelief.

We have given attention to the prophecy of Zechariah before in our considerations of the suffering of Christ. We observed then that this prophet likened Israel to a flock which refused to accept the good supervision of the shepherd. Israel wanted to arrogate to itself the spiritual privilege of shaping its own picture of the ideal of a good shepherd. And because the shepherd of God’s choosing does not conform to the image which the people have shaped, these people withdraw themselves from His cares. Hence, Zechariah concludes, God will remove His shepherd and scatter the sheep abroad. Obviously, then, the scattering of the sheep is a penalty “visited upon” the people because of their sin of “unbelief.” Are the sheep pushing aside God’s shepherd? Then God will remove that shepherd of His election, the only one who could possibly keep them together.

At this point our difficulty begins.

If the flight of the disciples were nothing more than the natural effect of the capture of Jesus, the incident would introduce no new element into the history of the passion.

But now we notice that we are required to observe a visitation in this scattering of the disciples. And that changes matters; it makes the situation very painful. The prophecy of punishment which Zechariah pronounced upon the unbelieving people is fulfilled in and applied to the disciples of Jesus. How astonishing to think that Zechariah’s judgment must accrue to this circle of disciples. On the threshold of Gethsemane God lifts this somber passage out of the prophecy of Zechariah, writes it upon a piece of paper, and addresses this threat against an unbelieving people —to the eleven faithful ones of Jesus. In other words, He is addressing it to the last ones still left to Jesus, to the called office bearers, who are to extend and support His kingdom.

In this fact inhered Christ’s great suffering. He had suffered when His perfect round of twelve had been broken by Judas’ betrayal. But now His suffering is also very great, for the eleven who are still His are scattered by a judgment which Zechariah pronounced upon those who ignored the shepherd.

He wants to rescue the little bark of the church from the turbulent waterfall. And as He plunges into the stream, a tidal wave rushes against the vessel and dashes it into pieces. Here wreckage and a raging storm of judgment!

There is no escaping it; we shall have to look behind the external appearances of matters, and shall have to believe that sin is lurking there. For judgment comes only to the place where sin dwells.

That the scattering of the disciples is really a “visitation” which accrues to the disciples because of their sin becomes obvious at once from the manner in which Christ announces it. He uses the word “offense”: All ye shall be offended because of me. By that He meant that the disciples would stumble, and by stumbling, fall into sin.

What was the sin? We may be disposed to ask. Can it be that it was not quite natural for them to flee? Did something remain, still, for them to do? And putting it the other way, would they not have been tempting God if they had haughtily braved the danger? In fact, Jesus Himself had said: If ye seek me, let these go their way. How, then, can their leaving be called sin? Jesus Himself desired that they should go.

You see that questions abound.

But whoever asks these questions forgets that the disciples did something quite different from what Jesus asked for them. Jesus said: Let these go their way. But “to go one’s way” is by no means the same as “to flee”. “Going one’s way” is a neutral phrase. A person can “go his way” calmly, trustingly, peacefully, of course. But he can also go restively, anxiously, nervously. And the disciples, in their going, manifested none of the firm poise and strong faith which characterized their Master. They fled.

Jesus had asked for them the privilege of going where they pleased. They could still have chosen, therefore, to follow Jesus, to continue their confession of Him as one who, although He was in bonds, was a shepherd who was conscious of His purpose, and a good pathfinder and protector. But they fled: they went into every direction save into that towards which the band was leading Jesus.

Flight, sheer flight, is never a religious act. On the contrary, it is always an irreligious act. The flight of a person who flees only because of weakness is certainly not an appropriate expression of the will of God. Mere fleeing as such is never the response which faith gives to the Word of God as it addresses itself to us in the Scriptures and in history.

True, there is a kind of “fleeing” which may be called “flying” (Revelation 12). This is a retreating, conducted in the strength of God, by faith, and to His glory. Accordingly, the word “flee” is also included in the Heidelberg catechism. But it may never be wrenched out of the context in which it is used there. It is used, you remember, in Lord’s Day 33, which speaks of true repentance. The discomfort of the sense of “fleeing” is contrasted there with joy in the quickening of the new man who aspires to keep the law, and to do that by virtue of the promises.

But that is not the meaning of the word in this connection. The fleeing of the disciples is caused not by keeping their eyes fastened upon God, but by fixing them upon the enemies. That is why their flight takes place without faith. Christ is to die in order to procure for them the privilege of walking. But He is required to atone for their sin of fleeing first. They did not use their privilege: not even after He had obtained it for them. Should they not have trusted Him? And should their going away not have been a manifestation of their faith in the strength of Christ? Indeed, if they had trembled before the majesty of His Word, before the strength of His will, and before His poise, they would have recognized immediately that His command swept the course clean for them, that the Red Sea was passable. But they did not tremble. They belong to the baptized of Moses, but they do not baptize themselves in Christ. They do not cross their Red Sea, O Moses! O Lamb of God, you will have to enter the Red Sea alone.

For a long time the disciples have known the Master as one who can stay the storms, and can tame men, as one whose will is law. But that does not help them now. Staves and clubs such as those of this band are stronger than the stars at times, are they? Bonds and fetters of men are stronger than the Word? Jesus has been bound, has He? Then the same thing can happen to them. So do their souls instruct the disciples and so they prove to be unaware of the unique meaning of the binding of Christ. It does not occur to them that He is binding Himself, in order to purchase the freedom of the world. As their spirit perceives the matter, Gethsemane still stands outside of the sphere of prophecy, and is not subject to the pressure of the plan of redemption. Their way of looking upon this night is worldly. Therefore they ignore His keeping on the very night in which the good Shepherd is making the supreme sacrifice for them.

Hence it is for this sin of unbelief and faithlessness that the letter of prophetic judgment written by Zechariah reaches the disciples. The meaning of it is not that God wanted to take this means to tell them that they were outside of the pale of love. But it does mean that God was complaining against it, and

weeping bitterly in the earth because of it. The great Shepherd of the sheep, left completely isolated in His calling, performed the supreme act of care for His sheep, the act which had to explain and make valid every other act. And because the sheep did not even recognize that, the earth was amazed exceedingly. To give all of His words full credence when swords are flashing and handcuffs rattling around Jesus’ hand——

We need ask no longer, then, whether the flight of the disciples pained Jesus. Alas, there is ever that fulfilling of the Scriptures! Did you observe that Christ emphatically requested free passage for His disciples, in order that His own experience of prayer, or thanksgiving, might not become vanity. Before the darkness of Gethsemane swallowed Him, He had knocked at His Father’s door, and given Him this specific praise: Those that Thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost (Joh_17:12). Father, Father, Thou hast not isolated me! There are the soldiers, the swords, the brutes! May Heaven rescue the prayer of the Son——

. . . Listen to that and notice how Christ fights for the preservation of His own doxologies. He says it; He implores it; He commands it. Let them go free, he says. I am willing to lose Myself, but not my sheep. And he prays, in order that the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake: Of them which Thou gavest Me have I lost none. (Joh_18:9).

Now the chasm opens itself. For what could appear more futile, more vain, than the doxology of Christ? In the room of the passover He prayed, and He has thanked God and has sung a new hymn into God’s ear because He had not been segregated from His sheep. Today, however, an old hymn — a hymn of Zechariah — clashes with His new one. Alas, Lord, He is being segregated! The sheep are fleeing! They are subject to the ban of isolation read over them by Zechariah the prophet. Lord, my God, dost Thou accept everything, then, save the prayers and thanksgivings of Jesus, the Nazarene?

You who read the Bible, do you see the friction which exists between the first instance and the second in which the words “might be fulfilled” are written? Christ’s word was fulfilled? But so was Zechariah’s! And that is a gnawing, chafing, painful truth! The sheep have been kept? No, they have been scattered abroad .... being outside of the province of faith! My Saviour, what didst Thou do amiss to warrant God in causing Thee so much grief — in Thy Prayers?

What didst Thou do to warrant the Almighty to make Thee doubt Thine own doxologies by means of a prophecy of Zechariah? Must Thou suffer everything, literally everything .... hailing from the nethermost abysses? Is God unwilling to accept even appropriate praise from Thee? Must Thou fight for the privilege of praising? Lord, art Thou so basically alone?

Yes, so absolutely, so strictly alone is the Christ. The best offer He has to give is the offer of prayer. But the incense of His sacrifice is beaten down. Cain, Cain: Nevertheless, His name is The-Greater-Than-Abel.

Christ, you see, is being drawn into His isolation from two sides: from God’s side and from that of His trusted ones.

The fact that God is isolating Him is obvious from the expression: Smite the shepherd. God Himself is summoning the sword against the shepherd whom He first appointed. It is God who puts Jesus in bonds, thrusts Him away from the sheep, and lets Him feel that the scattering of the sheep is a dispersing of His own prayers. Cain, O Cain! Nevertheless His name is — the great Abel.

If only the sheep had accompanied Him to the end. If only they had simply “gone their way,” calmly, with the consummate poise of faith, and as warriors who, although they are defeated by a fleshly power, gratefully and trustingly make use of the privilege which their captain has negotiated for them! O, if only this dispersing of the sheep had been purely the result of God’s act in taking Christ, the shepherd, away from them, then the scattering of the sheep would not have added at all to the grief which God was causing him. But their unbelief causes a segregation of the sheep from the shepherd. Sheep of my flock, what have I done to you deserving of such infidelity?

Two things, then, God’s justice and the infidelity of the sheep, divided the Shepherd from the flock and set Him in isolation. What could this shepherd possibly do? The owner of the flock is silent; no, He wrenches Him away from the sheep. My God,

my God, why didst Thou take His charges away from Him? Was there nothing to warrant Him in laying down His mandate over Thy flocks? Must this Laborer proceed blindly in His task? Looking backwards, He sees the sheep leaving Him. They, too, place Him in isolation. Sheep of God’s pasture, why did you remove your trust in Him? Spirit of the Lord, why dost Thou harden their hearts, why not grant Him a few arms for support? Why must the Holy Trinity blow away the incense of that prayer: I thank Thee, Father, that I have lost none? Cain, awful Cain! But He is called the fulfillment of Abel, is He not? A voice was heard across the Jordan. Where does the Spirit stay who hovered over this baptized head? The dove has flown long ago. This sound is the screeching of demons. Who teaches Him Israel’s songs of praise? God is among them. And His soul searches for God in the morning.

Christ in isolation!

The owner of the sheep, the sheep themselves. These thrust Him aside. And Thou, my soul, Thou especially dost push Him away. And the great Shepherd must, in His isolation, give His life for the sheep. Surely, the tenderness of John 10, the tenderness of the hymn of the Good Shepherd, never sounded so terrible as it does in this awful moment. For this moment gave birth to the utterances which Paul weakly repeated later: All men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

And now, in order to achieve that last result, in order to purge the isolation, the shepherd takes upon Himself the burden of His own segregation as the penalty for their act of isolating Him. Thus He removes the sheep from the judgment and leads them to the meadow of communion. He bites His teeth in His effort to bear their blunt confusion and nervous activity as they dispel the incense of the sacrifices of His far-reaching Passover prayers. For this they do until the sacrifices of His prayers begin to resemble the sacrifice of Cain. He bears, He endures everything, everything, .... amen. A greater than Abel is here. In seeing the remnants of the old man in them, of the Cain in them, He has not ignored or rejected the new man in His disciples.

He will die for them in spite of everything. The voice of His blood will cry louder than that of Abel.

But never again ask whether or not this is causing Him pain. Isolation is always painful, for a human being instinctively seeks company. There are solitary souls who invite the companionship of some animal, when men forsake them. This they do because they cannot exist without communication and fellowship. Here you find a childless man and wife who keep a dog; there a dying soldier cries for his mother in vain, and clings to the hand of the nurse instead; yonder sits a poor old woman with a canary in a cage. A hidden tragedy hovers over all these people. They cry for fellowship, brush aside a tear, keep back a choking sob.

And could you suppose that this was not so for Christ? Nay, precisely His sensitive heart craved company, yearned for understanding, for sympathy, for someone sharing His experiences, someone fully understanding His soul. But Jesus must watch them go, one by one. See, there goes Peter. And now John. James, too, is leaving. One by one they tear themselves away from Jesus’ soul. And His soul is more delicately responsive than the most sensitive telepathic plate. Very finely it responds to the presence and to the absence of loving thoughts and heart’s passions designed for Him, caressing Him in friendliness and faith.

This, then, is the first attack of the tragical conflict in the solitary Christ, who is left in solitude by His twelve confidants as well as by all of the silent heavens.

Nevertheless a new light seems to dawn upon Him for a moment. True, the eleven who have long been faithful to the Master leave Him now. But another makes his appearance, shyly, bashfully he comes, it is true, but he comes to comfort and strengthen the human soul of the Man of sorrows by his presence — that great and precious human good.

The newcomer is the anonymous youth in the garden of Gethsemane.

It looks like a promise. When twelve giants fall in battle the arrival of a dwarf to take their place can be definitely encouraging. When eleven great oaks have been felled in the forest, the discovery of a little flower, shyly lifting its head from the grass, can be a beautiful find. Just so the anonymous lad is a lovely flower by the side of the road on which the eleven have deserted the Saviour. Can it be that this unknown youth who followed Jesus with love and not without courage is going to break the ban of isolation? Father in heaven, art Thou going to send a little one? Wilt Thou cause Jesus’ hand to turn itself to the little ones? Of those whom Thou hast given Him, He has lost all. Wilt Thou give Him another, and may He keep this One? Thou withholdest the disciples; wilt Thou grant Him this embarrassed novice? The students of the first order have been repulsed; may the Son know that His solitary soul has the companionship of a “student of second rank”? Heavenly Father, dost Thou proffer grace in this moment?

The question is a significant one. It touches upon the suffering of Christ directly. And, in reference to what has occurred before, it also touches upon prophecy.

Just what has God in mind by sending this youth? And just who is he?

As a matter of fact, we do not know who he is. His name has been withheld from us. It is apparent that he left his home in haste. He must have gone to bed already, for he is wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. Nevertheless he came down from his chambers to follow Jesus shyly. Apparently he saw what took place, was moved by feelings of love and sympathy,[1] and followed after Jesus. Moreover, he persevered in the pursuit — so much is obvious from the Greek text — he persisted in following even after the disciples fled. The first onslaught of the enemy was not enough to repulse him. He followed after, and when he followed, Jesus noticed it. The same delicate perception which had noticed Nathanael sitting under the fig tree, and informed Him at once when the faith of a suffering woman drew her life out of Him by touching His garment, is active now also. Jesus’ soul tasted and fed on the love of this young man as it affected Him, strengthening Him. His presence was a gift of God to Jesus; it seemed designed to destroy the isolation.

[1] This becomes apparent from an element in the original text which some of the manuscripts include. Compare P. L. Groenen, op. cit., p. 221; also Mar_5:37 and Luk_23:40.

You ask again, who was this young man? Jesus knew, but we do not. Some have ventured to suggest names, have alluded to John, for instance, and to James, and to Saul. One interpretation deserves attention, because it is not an arbitrary one. And that is the interpretation of those who link the name of Mark, the evangelist, with this young man. Much can be said in support of this view. In Chapter 10 we discussed the possibility that Mark lived in the same house in which Jesus kept the Passover, and we ventured to suggest that Mark attentively followed everything which happened in the room where Jesus and His disciples had sat at supper.

And if this Mark, whose father (or mother) belonged to the circle of Jesus’ friends, had occasion to be impressed by Jesus’ holiness, it is easy to understand — perhaps it was one of the first blessings to issue to the outside world from the first Supper — that a more than magnetic force drew him after Jesus. Some commentators prefer to think that the band of soldiers who were guided by Judas, first went to the house where the Passover had been kept, in order to make sure whether or not Jesus was still there. It is possible that the young man was awakened by the noisy vehemence of the soldiers, and that he, gripped by a sense of anxiousness and love, immediately arose and followed after them. We read that he wore a linen cloth, that is, a garment made of precious Indian stuffs, or possibly from cotton; and this fact tells us that he belonged to the well-to-do. And this particular feature fits appropriately into the structure of what we know of Mark.

All of these particulars, to say nothing of other data, make the thesis that Mark was the anonymous lad a very plausible one. From such a point of view, for instance, we would easily see why Mark alone records this incident in his narrative of the Gospel, and why the name of the youth is modestly withheld from us in it.

But why should we care to find data which would determine more definitely the identity of this young man? Would that be an especially significant discovery?

Of course not. The question of his identity may be interesting but does not affect the central significance of the incident. And we wish to state here emphatically that we have no certainty about who he was.

But no certainty is necessary.

The important fact is this: The companionship of this proselyte was quickly snatched away from the Christ. The soldiers threaten him, because they recognize in him a follower of Jesus, and because they are annoyed by his boldness. A free-for-all ensues and in the commotion of the fight, the young man leaves his coat in the hands of the soldiers, and flees to his house naked.

For Christ this event serves to confirm His absolute isolation and to enhance its application.

We must not forget that the situation of the young man in relation to Christ was different from that of the eleven disciples. He never belonged to the narrow circle of the disciples; the evangelists indicate plainly that these all had fled. To this extent, then, he did not share in the freedom to go where he pleased which Jesus had procured for the eleven. The fact that in spite of this he had the daring to follow and to see what should become of Jesus is an indubitable indication of courage. He followed after Jesus without a single promise, without a bodyguard.

His courage put to shame the fear of the apostles who had indeed received the protection of Jesus’ word. This young man accompanied the band and clung closer to Jesus than Peter and John later would dare to do. And this conduct on his part looked at first like a new hope and a new beginning; a new bud was burgeoning forth in the garden of the expectations of Jesus, the Nazarene, the genuine man.

But now God, who put Jesus in bonds, appears to be so brutal, so harsh, that He forcibly slashes off the new shoot arising from the broken stem of the hope of Jesus. God permits the sword of the soldiers to drive this young man away also. For the darkness of night must bear down upon the Son of man from all sides. Not merely the old, but also the faint beginning of this new fellowship must be snatched away from the Son in this moment. Student and apprentice, the advanced in Jesus’ school and those just beginning, the twelve of the past and the first-born of the future Pentecost, the new patriarchs and the bashful proselytes, the remnants of the Old Covenant and the novices of the New — all, all must be taken away from Jesus. Yea, Father, for such has been Thy good pleasure! The isolation must be absolute!

Now it is true that the tender bud of love for Jesus, which sprouted in the souls of bashful novices, later blossomed out and bore fruit to the glorification of Jesus Christ, and it is also true, assuming that this young man was Mark, that the lavish love of this new-comer proved abundant, and strong, and prophetic later in its efflorescence for the glorified Christ. But in this moment, nevertheless, God takes everything away from Him: the old and the new, the familiar disciples and the strange novices, those who have been satisfied with wisdom, and those who are craving a single word from the Wonderful Prophet who takes souls captive. All of them must be torn away from Jesus, the guests seated at the table as well as the spectators standing at a distance. Be silent, ye heavens, and forbid that the synthetical spirit should assert itself upon any heart which is seeking Jesus. Stay back, ye winds of love, and withhold your dews, ye morning-clouds of youthful hearts: steel your countenance against Jesus, the Nazarene, O earth, nor let a benignant, sympathetic smile fall upon Him. In this way He must learn the art of “setting his face like a flint.” O angels, ye who bear the candles, and make coldly calculating discriminations, thrust Him into abysmal solitude. Cause all the heavens to know the cruel secret: Christ is in isolation, for such is the judgment.

Do you want to taste of his judgment? Then you will have to live in hell. For only in hell is isolation perfect and complete.

There are two worlds ultimately.

There is, first of all, the world of heaven. In Heaven souls melt together without losing their individualities. There the unexpressed hymn born in the heart of one is immediately taken into the heart and upon the lips of the other. Heaven is the place of perfect fellowship, of perfect harmony of thoughts and of ideas.

But the Bible places over against this picture that other one of hell. In hell one person desires no fellowship with another. The soul-expression of the one is as a dagger-thrust to the other. Thoughts and desires are as stabbing knives in hell.

The bound Christ is now passing between these two worlds.

The unbelief of His disciples sets Him apart; they isolate Him. Ah, how their thoughts do stab at His heart like knives!

And here is this modest young man. He wants to go along; love draws him; the future makes its just demands in him, the anonymous one, known only to God. He is the flower and the hope of what is almost the Christian fellowship But he,

too, is torn away from Jesus. God is isolating Him. Ah, how like sword-thrusts the thoughts of God are now! All that the Judge of Heaven and earth ponders in His heart on this very night which is also going to inspire a Form for the Holy Supper—all is as a two-edged sword to Jesus. God’s sword is being aroused against the Shepherd, and it even drives the trembling lambkin which is stumbling on behind the flock, away from the good Shepherd. O, how consuming, how terribly devouring this sword is!

May we never again say that anything included in the narrative of the passion constitutes no real suffering for Jesus. May we leave Gethsemane with our eyes solely fastened upon the surety of our souls who fulfilled His office as Shepherd, even when the flock was removed from His sight, and who did this simply and solely because God required it of Him and because He was moved by unspeakable love. The Shepherd, who could not even see the sheep, placed His soul in their stead, trembled before God, and put Himself, together with the sheep He had to purchase, into the Father’s hand. For he had pondered in His heart the idea of the shepherd and the sheep. When He had once really grasped that idea, when His shepherd’s heart moved by virtue of faith and not by virtue of things visible, then He conquered reality, creatively and omnipotently. Only he who has the idea has the reality.

Therefore my Jesus deserves to be called the King of His church and the chief Shepherd of the sheep. He had the idea of the church in His heart, even when everything mocked that idea.

Remember, two forces drove Him away from His own.

First, there was a force which operated from within outwards. This force was their unbelief and fear. They fell to pieces; in themselves they could not achieve fellowship and communion.[1]

[1] Coetus: Communion, proceeding from within outwards.

Besides, there was a force which proceeded from without inwards. God drove them away from Him, and the devils drove them, and men. There was no external force present to draw them together, to force them, to hold them, to gather them together.[2]

[2] Congregatio: Communion externally realized.

And when the situation was so desolate that no force proceeding from within outwards along organic channels, and no force entering in from the outside by mechanical means could unite the communion of believers with Jesus, then He Himself achieved it. He created His church. He did it by an omnipotent deed, by a tremendous will. For is the Creator conceivable except in isolation? The creating God is necessarily alone. O Christ, Prince of the church, Father of the church.[3] My Lord and my God! Because Thou didst have the Church in Thine idea, therefore Thou dost gain it in reality.

[3] Coetus (active) and congregatio (passive): The name for the Church in the Confession of Faith in the Netherlands.

Some have said that Mark’s inclusion of the incident of the anonymous young man in his narrative may be likened to the monogram which a painter sketches upon his canvas when he has done with the work by way of indicating that he is the artist of it.

Perhaps this comparison is true to fact.

Be that as it may, so much is certain. In the personal account which each of the sons of God writes of his fellowship with God, the part which tells of his having forsaken Jesus is surely the most personal monogram with which he can prove his account of his conversion and fellowship with Christ his own personal experience.

Fix your heart upon the isolated Christ and tell him: Yes, I have forsaken Thee. My Saviour, my Bridegroom, I have forsaken Thee. From me the soldiers took the garment, me they molested when I sought the Bridegroom, whom, nevertheless, I isolated by my unbelief (Song of Solomon , 5).

I, I have done it.

Be silent now and listen attentively to Him. For now He Himself will proclaim that He has accepted you, not only as a forsaken one but also as one who forsakes. Such an one is my love, O daughters of Jerusalem.

For if, when we were still forsakers, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled we shall be saved by His life, after we have been borne into communion with Him. If, while we were isolating Christ by sin, we were nevertheless accepted of Him who, though broken in isolation, drew us unto Him by the irresistible force of His life, then is redemption perfect. All doubts and uncertainties which must creep into the soul as often as it fosters the illusion of an unisolated Christ, are dispelled as soon as we return to a Reformed outlook upon this unspeakable wonder: Christ was isolated in order that solely by sovereign grace He might break the isolation and establish the communion of God with those whom He has purchased.

Indeed, when John wrote that he had seen with his eyes and handled with his hands the Word of life, he included in it the visible image and tangible misery of Christ, isolated, also by John. Hence grace surges up in the words which follow: That which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full (1Jn_1:1-4). Indeed, fellowship thrice multiplied by Christ’s three-fold isolation! And joy fulfilled by His profound grief. Please give me again the form for the Lord’s holy supper.

We now leave Gethsemane with our eyes fixed upon the isolated Christ. We know that in God and in the eternal good pleasure our redemption is sure. For nothing man could give, not even the aspiration of a passionate longing for Christ which trembled in human souls, qualified Him for the sacrifice. He ignited all His incense alone. He dwelt in His absolute isolation, and His own flame alone reached up to Heaven. His own arm alone acquired salvation.

Moses, Moses! You lifted your staff over the Red Sea and your faith coerced the wide expanse of her waters. Behind you was a yearning people, and these pushed on; they had to cross it and they would. Aaron watched you anxiously; Miriam wrought hard for you in prayer. All the available energies of prayer wrought with you, Moses; together these supported the arm that held your staff, the staff which clove the waters. Yes, yes, it was your faith but you were faithful and believing amidst a cloud of witnesses. You were not isolated.

But Christ——

He stood before the Red Sea, looked around, and saw that no one, no citizen of any of the worlds, was accompanying Him. Israel was scattered. The night was dark. Ah, how hard it is to cleave the waters of a sea if the people are invisible! But, isolated as He was, Christ did enter the Red Sea. Never was anyone in such solitude as He.

The Law of the Kingdom willed so; hence there was no alternative in all the world.

But if my soul may one day sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (Revelation 15), the Lamb will be more important to me than Moses. And that too will be in conformity with the Law of the Kingdom.

In His isolation is contained all my strength. Before long I shall praise Him as one of a great host. That host will be the gathering together of all those who fled from Him.