"Jesus washed the feet of both Peter and Judas..."
—From Ch. 27 ("Jesus and Judas"), Jesus Journey
"Papa, how do we know Jesus is with us tonight, if we cannot see him?"
A Master's degree in Biblical Exegesis just isn't enough for the profound bedtime questions of my twin six-year-old girls! These two can't fathom being alone—they never have been.
I light a candle (ok, it's battery-powered) next to our Icon of the Anastasis (from a beautiful fresco we saw once at the Chora Church in Istanbul), so my girls can see Jesus in resplendent white reaching back into time, lifting up Adam and Eve from the grave. We have seen him!—which is why the Eastern Orthodox church rightly believes that iconography, rightly understood, is not idolatry. And one day, we will see him... face to face.
But for now, my two little monkeys eventually fall asleep, knowing that they are not alone.
Chapter twenty-seven of Jesus Journey stirred my imagination regarding the profound loneliness Jesus must have felt, even as He was washing the feet of Peter and Judas. I have always wondered why Jesus would have called into his most intimate circle two men who he knew would betray and deny him. Or... did he know?
The Gospel writers are clear that Jesus knew at least by the time of the Passover meal, as they were breaking bread together. But did Jesus know when he first called them? When he found Peter fishing in the Sea of Galilee, why did He call him of all the fishermen who were on the water that day? Couldn't Jesus see in Peter's heart the seeds of denial in the way he saw honesty and integrity in Nathaniel's heart (John 1:47)?
Maybe Jesus couldn't yet see that in Peter. Or, maybe He could, because the Father had revealed it to him (John 5:19-20), and He chose Peter anyway, just as He chose you and me. Regardless, Peter's denial was still devastating for Jesus, just like the death of his dear friend Lazarus.
I can only imagine: "First, Judas. Now...
"You too, Peter?"
But that was only the beginning:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Seemingly, even the Father turned away...
Jesus felt utterly alone. Such crushing, cosmic loneliness.
I believe Mother Teresa was right about loneliness being the greatest poverty of all: “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for."
If Jesus was not fully human, how could he have been crushed by this greatest of poverties? But because He was human—and still is, thank you, Trent, for reminding us!—Jesus knows us in our loneliness.
To every unborn child that does not see the light of day. To every infant lying alone in an incubator for three months. To every child chosen last on the playground. To every sibling overshadowed by another sibling. To every high-schooler frantically trying to fit in. To every college student overwhelmed by their inadequacy. To every immigrant realizing they will never entirely belong. To every newlywed shocked by the fight on their honeymoon. To every divorcee crushed by grief. To every bereaved family member choking up at the sight of an empty chair at the table. To every senior waiting for a visit in a nursing home. To every man and woman breathing their last. To every orphan. To every widow. To every refugee...
Today's guest post is by Justin Jacobson: Justin and the best friend of his life, Victoria, hail from Patagonia and Kyrgyzstan respectively but now live in the Chicagoland area with their two sets of twin girls. When they are not changing diapers, you can find them dreaming about how to provide music education to children around the world—they founded The Bellas Artes School of Music in 2009. Justin and Trent were housemates and fellow longboarders during Trent's Wheaton Graduate School days. Victoria was at YWAM Honolulu in 2001 where Tré, Trent's older brother, visited to teach, long before ever Victoria and Justin ever met. Justin's dear sister, Anna Fletcher, was a roommate of Bronwyn, Trent's wife, at Wheaton College. It's the Brady Bunch.