The photo in this blog is of Dan, my best friend throughout high school and college years. It was taken in 1976 when Marion and I got married. I lost touch with Dan for years but then he re-appeared in my life in 1991 and we remained close until he went to be with the Lord eight years ago.
I am very thankful for his lifelong friendship, and remember him with gratitude. But as thankful as I am for Dan, I’m even more thankful for Jesus.
In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I am offering these brief reflections as a way of finding hope by turning our attention to God. Today I want to focus on friendship. Let’s take a quick look at some amazing words that Jesus spoke to his closest followers about this important topic. In John 15:13-15, Jesus’ best friend John tells us that Jesus spoke these powerful words about how He saw his relationship with them.
Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends
if you do what I command you.
No longer do I call you servants,
for the servant does not know what his master is doing;
but I have called you friends,
for all that I have heard from my Father
I have made known to you.
This tells us three things about what Jesus is like and what it means to be his friend.
First, he lays down his life for his friends. Greater love has no-one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. That’s exactly what Jesus did. He spoke these words to his friends just before heading out to the Garden of Gethesemane to be betrayed, mocked, tortured and hung on a cross. He gave his life for them and for us, so that we could stand before God with confidence, unafraid and unashamed.
Second, one mark of being Jesus’ friend is that you obey His teachings. You are my friends if you do what I command you. Jesus’ words have unique power – they are the words of life – and He is worthy to be obeyed. He’s our friend, but He’s also our Lord. David, the shepherd boy who became King of Israel, wrote that the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him – those who stand in awe of Him and treasure His counsel.
Third, although He is worthy to be obeyed, Jesus doesn’t treat us as slaves or underlings. He treats us as partners. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. In the full knowledge that they would all fail him badly, Jesus called these weak men his friends, and told them that he wanted to share with them every secret that He had learned from His Father.
I am so thankful that I can talk to Jesus. I am also very thankful that He talks to me. I am thankful that He is not ashamed of my weakness and my need. I can’t count the number of times He has instructed my heart and given me a fresh perspective that I badly needed. He corrects, guides and encourages those who want to be His friends.
I encourage you today to spend time talking with Him and listening to His words. Take a look at any one of the four Gospels. They are a rich treasure of heavenly insight and shine a bright light on the character and purposes of this amazing Man. You won’t be disappointed.