“Jesus & Isolation in Reverse”
While reading “Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of a Leader” by Shelley Trebesch this week for my doctoral program I ran across her “Table 1 – Summary of Fourfold Processes in Isolation,” (44) and “Table 2 – Isolation Examples and Their Experience of the Fourfold Process.” (47) In Table 1 she describes the Process, Purpose and Attendant Feelings of Leaders in Isolation. In summary, the Fourfold Process is as follows (please note this is a short summary of her findings):
Process, Purpose, Attendant Feelings
1.Stripping- Breaking process, hurt, relief
2.Wrestling with God- Why? What?, emotional pain, questioning
3.Increased Intimacy- Future ministry, affirmation, vulnerability
4. Look forward to future- Experience more of God patience, hope, excitement
In Table 2 she uses several examples of biblical figures who went through isolation and depicts their processes. She uses Jesus as one of those examples and determines the following:
1. Stripping – No
2. Wrestling – To not give into temptation.
3. Intimacy – Demonstrates trust in and intimacy with the Father.
4. Future – Preparation for public ministry.
She notes that Jesus did not go through any stripping process. I would disagree with this and would add that in many ways he went through this Isolation Process in reverse. So, let’s see what this might look like.
1. Future – In order to fulfill and be prepared for his public ministry he was born of a Virgin, taught in the temple astounding Jewish leaders, escaped into Egypt with his family, and then entered “silent years” between the approximate ages of 12 and 30. I would consider these part of his preparation process for his public ministry. During this time he had to show patience as he grew into a young man and prepared to step into his calling and ministry. We don’t know what he was doing during the silent years but I’m sure, in his humanity, he experienced hope and excitement.
2. Intimacy – Beginning around age 30 he gathered disciples and began his ministry of miracles and teaching. During this time he would find places of isolation for prayer and intimacy with the Father. As he began his public ministry he must have felt vulnerable and affirmed as he began people sought him out for healing and gathered to hear him speak.
3. Wrestling with God – In the Garden of Gethsemane when facing crucifixion and death Jesus asks the Father three times to let the cup pass from him. He expressed that his flesh was weak even though his spirit was willing. He experienced deep emotional pain and the Bible mentions that his agony was so great that he sweat drops of blood. He questioned God while also affirming his purpose.
4. Stripping – Finally, he was literally stripped and hung on a cross. He was stripped of dignity and experienced pain and hurt. Then, when he surrendered his spirit to the Father he received relief. This breaking process literally freed him from his humanity.
Jesus’ isolation process encompassed his whole life. He was isolated as God in the flesh walking amongst humanity. He experienced what we experience but in a very unique way.
How do you relate to Jesus’ isolation process? Have you ever experienced this Isolation Process in reverse?
Trebesch, Shelley G. Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of a Leader. Barnabas Publishers. Altadena, California. 1997.