In our posts so far we have been exploring the general categories for which we believe Jesus needs closure. Thus far we have covered the delay in His coming, His grief, His disappointment, and now we come to the final category: His exile.
Once again, it may seem an odd idea to think of Jesus being in exile. If you have read the previous posts, you realize I like to define words so we are sure to be on the same page. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines exile as follows: To banish, as a person from his country or from a particular jurisdiction by authority, with a prohibition of return; to drive away, expel or transport from one’s country; to drive from one’s country by misfortune, necessity or distress. Now, in view of that, how on earth could Jesus be in exile? That’s just the point. He isn’t on earth. He is in heaven, but would like to come back! We are the hold-up, as we’ve seen in previous posts. Let’s explore further.
Perhaps one of the clearest pictures of what we mean when we say Jesus is in exile is seen in Hosea 5:15. God says, “I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek My face; in their affliction they will seek Me early.” Here is a clear statement from the Lord that He has to withdraw from His people on account of their offense, their sin. He is banished, exiled “by misfortune, necessity and distress.” That misfortune is because of our refusal, as it says further in the passage from Hosea, to “acknowledge (our) offense, and seek His face”… Indeed, in Hosea 6:1, notice what it says is the proper response of the people: “Come, and let us return unto the Lord”.… This would result, based on what God said in Hosea 5:15, in His return to us! (Amen!)
A most touching portrayal of this concept of exile is found in Song of Solomon 5:1-6. “I am come into My garden, My sister, [My] spouse: I have gathered My myrrh with My spice; I have eaten My honeycomb with My honey; I have drunk My wine with My milk: eat, O friends; drink, yes, drink abundantly, O beloved.
I sleep, but my heart is awake: [it is] the voice of my Beloved that knocks, [saying], ‘Open to Me, My sister, My love, My dove, My undefiled: for My head is filled with dew, [and] My locks with the drops of the night.’
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? My beloved put in His hand by the hole [of the door], and my bowels were moved for Him. I rose up to open to my Beloved; and my hands dropped [with] myrrh, and my fingers [with] sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my Beloved; but my Beloved had withdrawn Himself, [and] was gone: my soul failed when He spoke: I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer.”
Jesus is here portrayed as coming to His garden: you, me, all His church, and He’s knocking for entrance. Our response is a weary, whiney, “Not now! I just got comfortable (with my new job, car, marriage, house…”). As He knocks to no avail, He realizes He is being rejected. In deep sorrow He turns and goes away. When at last the woman in this parable awakens, she finds that her Beloved “has withdrawn Himself, and was gone,” and though she called, He gave her no answer. Friends, it is very dangerous to grieve, even once, that tender Voice of entreaty pleading for us to turn to Him. Not only is it dangerous to us, it is painful to our Creator and Redeemer Who loves us with unimaginable, unbridled intensity.
But why does it say that she sought Him but could not find Him, that she called Him, but He would not answer? Let’s examine an incident in Jesus’ earthly life, when He was twelve and went to the temple in Jerusalem with His parents and they lost track of Him. This is found in Luke 2:41-52. “Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and His mother knew not [of it]. But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought Him among [their] kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, ‘Son, why have You thus dealt with us? Behold, Your father and I have sought You sorrowing.’ And He said unto them, ‘How is it that you sought me? Don’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ And they understood not the saying which He spoke unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
An analysis of this passage is very enlightening from the perspective of His exile. He was left behind by His parents because they were absorbed in visiting and socializing. Ever do that? Beware! When His parents realized that He was not with them, they immediately set out to find Him. It took them three days. Whose fault was it that they were so anxious? Right! It was theirs. Jesus was exactly where He was supposed to be, but carelessness lost sight of Him. And the three day search was completely avoidable and unnecessary! We see this reflected in the story in Song of Solomon–an unnecessary anxiety and an unnecessary search. Jesus wanted His parents to be with Him, and they should have been. Jesus wants us to be with Him, AND WE SHOULD BE. But our own carelessness, worldliness and neglect have locked Him out. We have exiled our Redeemer from our lives. We have exiled Him to a continual mediation in our behalf. We will discuss this concept in upcoming posts. But for now, let’s cap off what we have covered so far in our posts. (By the way, I would encourage everyone also to study Revelation 3:14-21 in the light of the exile theme. If He is on the outside wanting in, He is in exile!)
We introduced the concept of Jesus’ need to have Closure. We have broken that need down into four main categories: delay, grief, disappointment, and exile. Perhaps we have raised more questions than we have answered. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If any of you have questions, but wish them not to be posted, rest assured, your comments are not displayed on the page until they are approved. If you let me know it is a private question, it will be dealt with in that way. But if any of you have insights or comments on what we have covered thus far, please let us all hear from you!
May the Lord give us hearts to love Him! May all these things we are studying cause us to care about the effect of our sin on Him. Indeed, “few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator.” Let’s give thought!