Who Understands Me?

Like the other Gospel writers, Matthew from the beginning portrays Jesus as a man both alone and misunderstood. After His baptism, Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness, with no one to help Him until He had overcome all temptations; only then did angels come to serve Him (Matthew 4:1-11). The Pharisees, scribes, and elders of the Jews entirely failed to understand Him or His mission. His family members tried to rescue Him from what they considered to be excessive zeal (12:46-47). When He dared to mention God’s concern for the Gentiles, His childhood friends and neighbors tried to kill Him (13:53-58). Even His chosen followers, the Twelve, could not comprehend either who He was or, even more distressing, what He had come to do. After declaring his belief that Jesus was the Christ, Peter tried to prohibit the Lord from going to the Cross (16:22-23). Still, Jesus did not give up trying to gain their companionship. On the night in which He was betrayed, He virtually begged three of His closest friends to keep Him company while He poured out His agony and dedication to the Father, and was deeply disappointed when they gave in to weariness and fell asleep (26:36-46). We can only imagine how He felt when they all deserted Him, much less how much Peter’s denial must have grieved Him. Even now, at His hour of extreme suffering, no one understands. They take His cry to God, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” as a call for help from Elijah the ancient prophet. One of them tries to quench His thirst with cheap wine, fulfilling the words of Psalm 69:21, which in context expresses the utter loneliness of David in the midst of murderous foes. But at this time, Jesus does not despair. His cry of distress not only gives utterance to His indescribable pain, but evokes the rest of Psalms 22 and 69, in which David comforts himself with the knowledge that God knows. He understands. He will come to help, vindicate His servant, and finally be praised for gaining a mighty victory (Psalm 22:21b-31; 69:29-36). When you rightly feel that no one really understands; when your heart knows a bitterness that no one can share (Proverbs 14:10); when there is no one around you to comfort you – remember Jesus, our faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16). He knows! He has been there. He understands. He cares. “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).