Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Sometimes we might sing the hymn that declares, “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.”
Had it been written much earlier; Jesus might have sung it.
We easily make the mental transition of Jesus being the eternal God to Jesus in the family of Mary and Joseph. Surely, that change was not as easy for Jesus to make in real life.
We cannot pretend to understand exactly what Jesus thought and felt at any point in his existence. But Scripture reveals some details of what it meant that he was just like us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
He became hungry. He became angry. He became tired. He groaned when he saw the people weeping over the death of his friend, Lazarus. When he reached the gravesite, he, too, wept.
Before he came to earth as a human, he never faced hunger; never knew fatigue. He had never been tempted to sin. His life was never in danger.
Certainly, at times while on this earth he must have thought, “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.”
No one on earth understood him. No one knew how hard his mission was to carry out. He came as the Friend of sinners, but he was a stranger to all of them.
A news reporter of his day could have written about the amazing success of a religious leader who had come from the backcountry of Galilee to attract crowds numbering in the thousands.
He might have written: “And no wonder! Eyewitnesses have seen him work miracles! He has cured lepers; stopped fevers; made paralyzed people walk; fed crowds from a handful of fish and bread—and he has raised the dead!”
No wonder crowds flocked to him. Not surprising that he would head out before dawn to find a desolate place to be away from people.
But he did not actually seek solitude. He sought family. He reached out to his Father. He communed with the Holy Spirit.
In a familiar hymn, we are bidden to, “Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
That’s exactly what Jesus did. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
He was a stranger here. Heaven was his home—even as it is ours!
“Alone, Alone, All Alone” is the title of a booklet written for those who find themselves living a new phase of life because their loving spouse of many years is no longer with them.
Others have also felt that way. Some were left as orphans while very young. The college student living away from home for the first time has felt that way. Warriors landing in a distant and dangerous land have learned what loneliness is like.
It’s also true that one can be among loved ones and still feel isolated and forlorn.
Years ago, a hymnist wrote: “When all things seem against us, to drive us to despair, we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer.”
That’s good advice because it is true.
Jesus was a stranger here so that his Father could be our Father. It cost him his earthly life. It won for us eternal life.
He taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven…”
Today, we will sing, “I’m but a stranger here…” just as Jesus was.
But we can add, “Heaven is my home…” just as it was for Jesus.
Because Jesus’ Father is also our Father, we will not be a stranger in the heavenly realms.
We will be home.
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.