“Parting is such sweet sorrow." This is one of William Shakespeare’s most oft-quoted lines. What few realize is that it was uttered in the context of Juliet saying goodnight to Romeo “till it be tomorrow.” The sorrow of that parting was sweetened by the knowledge that it was only for a few hours.
But what about those partings from loved-ones that will be for years and years? There is nothing sweet and plenty bitter about such partings. What unmixed sorrow when a dying husband has to kiss his wife and children goodbye for the last time! What bitterness when soldiers on the way to Afghanistan have to say goodbye to their family and friends! What agony when a pastor and his beloved flock have to part, in response to God’s providential call, and sever the bond of love built up over years! Such partings are not “sweet sorrow,” but usually bitter, bitter, bitter.
The Lord Jesus also knew the deep sorrow of parting from His beloved family and flock on this earth. Time and again, He cautioned them that he had to “go away” (John 16:7). This was not easy for them; but neither was it easy for him.
The pain of missing them
For Jesus, there was a double sorrow in this parting. First, there was the pain of missing the disciples’ company. Over the years, he had come to love them, and even to need and to depend upon them. As a man, he enjoyed their friendship. He took pleasure in...
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