It happened so suddenly.
I received a phone call from my aunt on a Sunday afternoon who was frantically attempting to explain what had just happened. She and my uncle had just finished brunch at a restaurant and as he was getting up to pay the bill, he slipped and hit his head on the floor, bleeding and unconscious. He was rushed to the nearest hospital and underwent emergency neurosurgery to stop the bleeding and relieve the pressure on his brain. Unfortunately, there had been too much damage and he slipped into a coma. Within a few days, the doctors all agreed there was nothing more that could be done for him and he was discharged to home hospice. My uncle clung to life for about ten more days before quietly passing. I was present with my aunt, her son, and her two close friends.
In the days following this tragic event, my aunt understandably withdrew from all of us. The dizzying pace of the events was overwhelming. My aunt had been with my uncle for over fifty years; he was the only man she ever dated. In less than two weeks, he was gone. I could not even begin to imagine the pain and the flood of emotions that she was experiencing as she was suddenly alone. Over the next few days, I attempted to reach out to her many times but to no avail. I respected her privacy and gave her the space she needed.
Many of us have been in situations when we have experienced the sudden loss of a family member. We all deal with it in our own way. Jesus Christ had brothers and sisters and relatives. The Bible does not mention much about his specific interactions with them but we do know that they did not believe that He was the Messiah and the Son of God when He was alive and living with Him. In fact, besides his earthly mother and father, the only relative who believed that He was God was His cousin, John, the Baptist. They shared a special relationship, meeting one another when both were in the wombs of their mothers. Undoubtedly, they interacted when they were growing up. Decades later, Jesus would begin His ministry by being baptized by John, praising him as one of the greatest amongst men. John was later imprisoned by King Herod and executed. The following verses record the events immediately following the execution.
Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
Matthew 14:13-14 (NASB)
What would any of us do in such a situation? If this happened to me, I would undoubtedly do the same as my aunt and withdraw to be alone with my thoughts, or perhaps I would return to my family and share my grief with them. Yet, Jesus could have none of these comforts. People, who were unaware of His loss, followed and surrounded Him, begging Him to be healed of their sicknesses. If I was Jesus, my response would have probably been to lash out and push the people away. Jesus responded with compassion.
There are so many reasons why I love my Lord, Jesus Christ, and this is one of them. This beautiful story profoundly demonstrates how Jesus was able to put aside the pain of the sudden loss of his cousin to tend to our needs. Like the pain that my aunt experienced with the sudden passing of her husband, I cannot begin to understand the depth of emotional suffering and loss that Jesus experienced when His cousin was executed. Yet, He responded by serving God, His Father, by serving us, even when we did not understand His loss.
A short time later, Jesus would again demonstrate His love for us, by forsaking His own life and allowing Himself to be willingly led to the Cross to suffer a humiliating and excruciating execution on the Cross. In this supreme example, God demonstrates to us how He understands our pain when we lose a family member. He sacrificed His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Thank you, Lord Jesus.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.