Mat 20:17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to Him.
Mat 20:18 “Listen,” He said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die.
Mat 20:19 Then they will hand Him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day He will be raised from the dead.”
Why is saying goodbye difficult?
In this passage I see Jesus preparing His disciples for what he knew was coming. He wants to prepare them for an event that they think should never happen – His first goodbye, His death. Jesus had already once before warned them of what was to come, in Matthew 17:22 and now they are starting to worry that this may soon take place. Jesus knows what they are talking about so He takes them aside, away from the other groups of people. They are traveling to Jerusalem, most likely for the Passover, and the roads would have been filled with other travelers. Though they don’t seem to know yet exactly what is coming, in Mark 10:32 the disciples are amazed and fearful at the point that Jesus separates them from the crowds . I picture the disciples whispering among themselves discussing strategy or ways they might be able to save Jesus from His enemies. At this point they don’t understand that He must die at the hands of the enemy, so Jesus is making sure that they are made aware of exactly what must take place soon.
It is important to note that Jesus was not guessing at what would happen to Him and He didn’t know these things from some special revelation that only He had access to – He knew He was about to face mockery, the whip, and ultimately crucifixion because it was written of Him in the scriptures. (see Isaiah 53:1-12 and Daniel 9:26)
A personal goodbye
I recently had to say goodbye, yet again, to a dear friend and brother of many years. Saying goodbye is difficult for anyone. It can be awkward and often neither person knows what to say. When the time came for me to say goodbye to my friend, I struggled with the right words to let him know how much I would miss him and be thinking of him. In the end, I settled on “I’ll be praying for you and thinking about you”. I knew that chances were I wouldn’t be seeing him again for many months.
He, on the other hand, chose statements about how he would be back soon for another visit. He encouraged me to come and visit him where he would soon be living, though it was a great distance to travel. Both of us knew that the actual separation must soon take place because the time for his flight was fast approaching. Neither of us wanted to actually say goodbye. Just before he left, we hugged and expressed words of affection, and then he went his way and I went mine.
Different types of goodbyes
There seem to be a couple of overarching ways of saying goodbye. Both of them could probably be categorized in the sense of how long they take. Personally, I prefer the “ripping band-aid” approach. Don’t dilly dally. Don’t stretch out the awkwardness. Just say what you feel and then walk away. Others take the long drawn out approach. They say goodbye but then they say it again and again and again. Goodbye’s are painful and they have a hard time letting go.
There is no “right” way to say goodbye, in my opinion, because they are not natural. All separations, are painful no matter how we deal with them. A connection that is formed whether it is brief or extensive, must now be broken. Being in the physical presence of another person creates an unseen bond that cannot be replaced by emails, phone calls, video chats or any other means of communication. Being in the presence of a loved one strengthens that bond.
Unsure of what the future holds
One of the painful aspects of saying goodbye to a loved one is that we do not know the future. Being unsure of the future makes goodbye’s harder. We do not know what might happen to that person we are now being separated from. Though we don’t want to dwell on this fact there is a part of us that must deal with the idea of possibly never seeing that person again. Death is also a reality in our lives.
God knows the future. He uses this knowledge to give us some peace of mind. By studying His Word, we can have assurance of our soon reunion with Him!
How does Jesus say goodbye?
Jesus is first and foremost concerned for His disciples. He wants nothing more than for them to understand what must happen to Him so that they can accept it and have peace of mind, but he understands that they may not be capable of this. To prepare them he explains exactly what will take place so that when these things do happen they will remember His words and receive some level of comfort from them. He gives the “I’ll be back” statement when He says, “But on the third day He will be raised from the dead.” He seeks to comfort them and prepare them for the soon to come goodbye.
I have a sense that Jesus felt sadness at the idea of what must soon come for the same reason that we feel sadness during a goodbye…it means some form of separation with a loved one. Separation is the result of sin. Separation is the negative outcome of pride and sin that God has given everything, done everything, and showed everything to solve. Being with us is His true reward.
Eternal life means so much more to God than giving us the ability to exist for an indefinite amount of time. Even in this we have a tendency to think it’s all about us. God is giving us eternal life because it means that we will never ever ever ever ever ever have to say goodbye again. He loves us that much. Imagine loving someone so much that you never want to be apart from them, ever.
Sin causes separation. Think of times when you get irritated with a spouse or a friend and you want to “get away” from them. Isn’t it usually because your selfish nature has reared up and sat in the throne of your heart? Maybe if we started to think of sin as a painful separator, we would start to hate it like we should….
Dear reader. Listen to God’s call. He wants so much to come back into your life and be with you. Being with you is so important to Him that He was willing to give His Son so that you can be with Him again. He did it all, supplied the means and the escape, so that He would never have to be apart from you again. Can you praise Him for that today?
Dear Father in Heaven,
Today I just want to praise You and thank You for being willing to do whatever it takes to restore the bond that was never meant to be broken. Your love amazes me to the core. Change my heart Lord and make me desire unity with You in the same way that You desire it. I love You. Amen.