Sonrise -- While the City Slept
"And Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple." John 8:1-2
Gingerly planting His bare feet on the cold stone floor, He rises and begins dressing, careful lest He should wake the other members of the yet sleeping household. Stepping into a pair of sandals, He reaches for his outer garment, then quietly opens the door and moves out into the darkness. The stars, twinkling remotely in the black sky, do not betray the imminence of dawn. As He makes his way through the city He thinks of the throngs of people who will soon fill the now quiet streets. Day after day He has walked among them and with them, seeking to befriend the friendless, comfort the lonely, and to help wherever possible. Day after day He has walked and worked in loneliness; always in the midst of crowds, yet somehow still alone ... so far from home.
He reaches the outskirts of the city now and continues walking, descending through fields and pastures towards a valley below the city. Walking. He has walked much in the past few years. Driven by a burden for humanity He has moved from city to city--encouraging, listening, understanding, bringing hope. Yet little human encouragement offers consolation to his weary heart. True, a handful seem to appreciate His efforts ... appreciate Him. But even they do not really understand.
Crossing the valley, He begins to ascend the mountain on the other side. The mountain. How often He has come here! How often He has enjoyed the beauty that abounds here! His steps slow as the path steepens, yet He is scarcely aware of physical exertion, for He is consumed by a burden that weighs upon His heart--a burden to see the complete happiness of those around Him. This is His joy. But He seems so alone in His efforts to help. Always alone. It is at times such as this when He especially longs for the companionship of others ... if only one other. Another who appreciates. Another to understand, to offer encouragement.
A great weariness seems almost to overwhelm Him. If only ... He lurches forward, stumbling over an unnoticed rock in the path and falls to the ground. No one but the birds behold His prostrate form. No one witnesses his struggle to rise and then fall again, as though toiling under an overwhelming load.
Perspiration, such as no exertion ever caused mingles with tears in finding its way down His face, where it falls upon the grass that cushions His head. Early--morning dew casts a damp cover, as if nature weeps with Him, sharing the mental anguish that oppresses this lonely, human form.
Gasping as one who runs a long race, He buries His face in the grass, arms outstretched on the cold ground. His fingers dig slowly into the sod. Clutching handfuls of moist soil, He pulls Himself to His knees and with a voice barely audible says, "Father. Oh, My Father."
Only the trees see the crumpled Figure with bowed head. Only the hushed song-birds hear the sobs that pour from His very soul. And only nature witnesses as peace settles upon the kneeling form.
As the rich colors of purple, crimson and gold bathe the mountain top in resplendent glory, a Figure is silhouetted against the dawn. Standing alone, the world's Redeemer pauses for a moment, gazing upon the still-sleeping city below, then begins walking back, strengthened for another day.
Lesson 4 - Conclusion