I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in my anger…
I. JESUS CHRIST WAS ABLE TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. This is characteristic of a great man, that he is able to stand alone. It does not follow that a man is great because he stands alone. He may be selfish; and not wishing to be pained by the sorrows of humanity, and not desiring to give his labour and substance for the alleviation of those evils which afflict humanity, he shuts himself off from society. Thus his self-inflicted loneliness will be self-inflicted torture. Greater would be his happiness if he had greater self-denial. The man who stands alone through nervous sensibility is in a measure to be pitied and to be helped. Every rough word strikes like a barbed arrow into the centre of his nature. But it was neither selfishness nor nervous sensibility which caused Jesus Christ to be a lonely man. The Saviour stood alone by reason of the sublime grandeur of His nature. The good man is satisfied from himself, and the Saviour was for Himself all-sufficient. Society was not needful to Him in the sense in which it is needful for other men. But it is when a man has to accomplish some vast enterprise that his power to stand alone is tested. The greatness of John the Baptist was revealed, not when the crowds thronged to his preaching, not when the multitudes flocked to his baptism; but when he was cast into prison, and alone he was left to ponder over the world's cruel baseness, and the difficulty of reforming sinning men. The greatness of Luther was seen, not when men admired his trenchant exposures of Romish errors, not when the crowds thronged his way and crowded the houses and windows to see him pass; but when he stood before that imposing gathering which held his life in its hands, and said, "Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen." Only great men can do the world's greatest works alone. Now the greatest work of all was that which Jesus Christ accomplished when He trod the winepress alone. Some say that He was only a great Teacher. But it is difficult to utter new truths; and great teachers have found it needful for their success to surround themselves with sympathizing adherents. As a great Teacher Jesus was able to stand alone. The rude world was not ready for His moral lessons, and even His disciples could not appreciate the spirituality of His utterances. But He was more than a great Teacher. He came to give Himself to be the light and the life of men. And in carrying out the mediatorial purpose He was able to stand alone; for the indwelling Divinity imparted sublime power. And we, looking back to His finished work, resting upon it by faith, and deriving from it unspeakable blessings, can triumphantly declare that Jesus Christ was able to tread the winepress alone.
II. JESUS CHRIST WAS WILLING TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. The perfectly-constituted and fully-developed man loves society. The great man loves solitude; but he also delights in social pleasures; and, though able to stand alone, may not be willing to do so to the extent that his circumstances demand. Or, again, a man may be able to do some great work for the world's benefit, but says, " If there is no one to help, if there is no one with sufficient benevolence to sacrifice himself for the good of humanity, I shall not single-handed undertake the work. Now Jesus Christ did not move through this world as a gloomy recluse, and yet He did not give full play to the social part of His nature, because it was needful for Him to be much in solitude that His Divine mission might be successful.
III. JESUS CHRIST WAS CONSTRAINED TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. By the sting of the lash the unwilling slave may be compelled to get into the winepress and tread out the grapes, but no such compulsion could be applied to the Redeemer. He had all power — power over Himself as well as over others; but He kept His power in check. He was compelled by the sweet force of His own great love. And the solitariness of Jesus brings to our view the greatness of His love most vividly.
IV. JESUS CHRIST SORROWED TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. He possessed a sympathetic nature, and He would be made sorrowful by the fact that His mission separated Him from the loves and the sympathies of mankind.
V. JESUS CHRIST REJOICED TO TREAD THE WINEPRESS ALONE. There is great joy as well as great sorrow in all spiritual work; and Jesus tasted both in fullest measure. This is the climax of benevolence, that it can rejoice in suffering for the welfare of others. And Jesus rejoiced to tread the winepress alone, for He foresaw the beneficent and widespread results of His labours. The treader-out of grapes is producing a refreshing beverage for society; but Jesus Christ was producing not only a refreshing but a healing and reviving remedy for humanity to the very close of the world's history. Alone He trod the winepress, but not alone does He drink of the new wine, for He saves men in order that they may participate in the results of His solitary labours. Learn —
1. To each man there is a winepress to tread. We must in a sense tread the winepress the Saviour trod, for we must be crucified together with Christ; we must penitently and believingly recognize the fact that He suffered for our sins. But more than that, each man will have his own winepress to tread. Each man has his own work to do, his own cup of sorrow to drink, his own besetting sin to conquer, his special thorn to endure.
2. This winepress must be trodden alone. We cannot be saved by proxy. Jesus Christ, even in the higher departments of HIS work — work which we cannot do — left us an Example, or indirectly taught us how we are to work. Alone each one must tread the winepress. The great works of life must be done alone. Moral victories must be gained when there are none present to applaud.
3. The blessed results of lonely treading will be diffusive. No man can do faithful soul-work without blessing others as well as himself.
4. The glorious rewards of lonely treading will be publicly bestowed. In a measure it is so in this world. In a complete measure it will be so in that world where rewards are rightly administered. The scholar works alone, but receives his prize in public. The investigator toils in solitude, but publicly his labours are acknowledged. We sow in the tears of solitary working but we reap in the joy of many approvals. The truth commands so few admirers in this world of error that we are often found almost alone in its defence and in its advocacy; but to every faithful defender of truth will Jesus Christ say in the presence of assembled nations, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
WEB: "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing.