We asked you yesterday, how do you react to Jesus being called a friend?
Do you hear the lyrics of “What a friend we have in Jesus?” Does it sound sappy, undignified, or wrong to call Jesus a friend?
I visited a website of top 50 film friendships. One of the top 50 friendships on film was Gran Torino. In that film, a grumpy old man, unhappy with his changing neighbourhood demographics, befriends the boy and his family next door. In the end, he dies protecting his friends from the very gangsters he once thought they would be.
Well, this is how Jesus defines a true friend. A true friend lays down his life for his friends. That is not a sappy, undignified or disrespectful way to describe Jesus, it’s the highest praise we can give. His friendship and love are not empty words, but he acted at great cost, sacrificing himself for his friends. He cares so much, that he sets aside his safety and even his life. That sounds great, right? But who’s his friend?
Well, immediately after saying sacrifice is the sign of friendship, he tells them how anyone can be his friend, and then declares the disciples who are listening are already his friends. Does that mean they were perfect, holy and completely different from us? No – they were sinners.
Jesus was often described as friend of sinners. It was supposed to be an insult, but it was quite intentional on Jesus’ part. Take a tax collector like Matthew Zacchaeus for example. They likely had few real friends, since they collected (and stole) money from their fellow Jews on behalf of the Romans. From Jesus’ choice to befriend these men, we see that when we have no friends left, he will be there.
We see God’s character in Jesus’ character – “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only [Son], who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:18
This is a sign that God wants to be friends. Again, it’s not mushy and sentimental, but describes a deep, sacrificial bond with us.
He risks his reputation and his life for his friends.
Question: What is the most poignant symbol of friendship you’ve ever seen?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]