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Summary: The title of my message is a paradox, for to say, alone, yet not alone seems to contradict itself. How can two opposites be true? How can one be alone and yet not alone at the same time?

Bjornsen, the great Norwegian poet, who received the Nobel

Prize for literature was once asked what incident in his life gave

him the most pleasure. He replied that is was an occasion when his

house was attacked and his windows broken. This sounds slightly

odd and paradoxical, but before you jump to conclusions about his

sanity listen to the details concerning this painful incident which

brought him pleasure. Bjornsen had aroused the anger of the

Storthing, which was the Norwegian Parliament, over some issue,

and certain members of that body were so aggravated that they

went to his home and smashed his windows. Having expressed their

contempt for Bjornsen, they then marched away singing the

Norwegian National Anthem, "Yes, we love this land of ours."

Bjornsen chuckled to himself in spite of the damage, because he

was the author of the National Anthem. They could smash his

windows, but they had to sing his song. The paradox is double, for

not only did Bjornsen get pleasure out of this persecution, because

the persecutors sang his song, but because the persecutors

expressed their pleasure by singing the song of the one they had just

persecuted. Here is a good example of the saying that truth is

stranger than fiction. The facts of history and experience

demonstrate over and over again that paradox is a part of the

reality of life. That is why we find so many paradoxes in the Bible.

The title of my message is a paradox, for to say, alone, yet not

alone seems to contradict itself. How can two opposites be true?

How can one be alone and yet not alone at the same time? This is

only one of several paradoxes of Jesus in the closing two verses of

chapter 16. He also says His disciples are to have peace in

tribulation. They are to be of good cheer in spite of His prediction

that they will forsake Him and suffer. Then He tops it off with a

proclamation of victory when in a matter of hours he was going to

be nailed to the cross in apparent defeat. This passage is a paradise

for those pursuing paradoxes. Practically everything Jesus says

here sounds like a contradiction, but each is a profound truth that

can be experienced in life. We are going to take just one of these

paradoxes for our study now. Jesus makes the statement of being

alone, and yet not alone, and this opens to us two channels for

exploration concerning the subject of loneliness. First let's

consider-

I. THE REALITY OF LONELINESS.

Jesus knew what it was to be left alone. He knew the feeling of

being forsaken by all, including those He most loved. He is about to

go into the garden of Gethsemane and face the most agonizing inner

struggle of His life, and He will have to do it alone. His disciples

will be careless and indifferent, and they will sleep rather than

watch with Him. It is likely that no one has ever experienced the

depth of loneliness like Jesus did. Alexander Maclaren does not

hesitate to say, "Jesus was the loneliness man that ever lived... He

knew the pain of unappreciated aims, unaccepted love, unbelieved

teachings, a heart thrown back upon itself." Jesus spent much of

His public ministry in the midst of crowds, and yet He was alone,

for not only His foes, but His family and friends misunderstood

Him, and could not share His deepest thoughts and goals. Jesus

experienced to the fullest the reality of loneliness.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Linus is admitting that he is afraid to go

into the public library. His friend Charlie Brown is trying to

comfort him by explaining that everybody feels lonely in some place

or another. When Linus asks, "What is your place?" Charlie

Brown replies, "Earth." In another cartoon Charlie is asked,

"What are you going to be when you grow up?" He replies,

"Lonely." Studies in many fields show that Charlie Brown has a

vast crowd with him in the same boat, for earth seems to be the

place where the majority of people are lonely. It is one of the great

paradoxes of our world that loneliness is a major problem side by

side with the problem of population explosion. No number of

people can change the fact which Amiel writes of in his journal. "In

all the chief matters of life we are alone: We dream alone, we suffer

alone, we die alone."

This was the reality experienced by Jesus. He bore His ideals

and His suffering alone, and upon the cross it was alone that He

died. So it is with all of us. However much we rub elbows with the

crowds, we are still essentially Robinson Crusoes on the lonely

island of self. You can be perfectly healthy, and have a well

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