A friend is a person that laughs with you about nothing in particular, hands you money when you forget yours, stands by you when you’re having a tough day and believes the best in you. A friend will overlook your faults, encourage you in your strengths and can sit in silence doing absolutely nothing. And even if you haven’t seen each other in years you can continue where you left off as if it was only moments ago.
John 15:13 states: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend.(ASV)
That is intense love; intense friendship. Though laying down one’s life is friendship to the extreme, what about laying down one’s wants or one’s “right” to be right for the sake of a friend? It’s called selflessness. It’s called sacrifice. It’s called friendship.
Because the word is so loosely used I am sure many people who call one another friends don’t come under that description. It’s because none of us are perfect; therefore, our version of friendship is tainted. It can be vibrant one day but dark the next. Do you remember hearing, “you’re not my friend anymore” on the playground when you were a kid? It was because a child didn’t get their way and didn’t understand the meaning of friendship.
But being a friend to someone sometimes means preferring another before you. Consider David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of King Saul but preferred David above his own status, even as far as saving David’s life. He partnered with him, following his lead knowing that David was the one who was anointed to be king instead of him.
True friendship is necessary for our well-being. We need each other.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
The Bible even mentions one person from the Old Testament whom the Lord considered to be HIS friend. This person believed God’s word regardless of what he saw. He trusted God. Friendship involves trust.
“And so it happened just as the Scriptures say. ‘Abraham believed God and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God.” James 2:23 (NLT)
We tend to use the term so lightly. How many Facebook or social media friends do you have? Do you really know them or are some of them just friends of friends? Some people in our lives are acquaintances, while other people have a closer relationship with us. Those are the people that we might share our personal life experiences with. Finally there is that one person or maybe a couple people who will stick closer than a brother.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverb 18:24 (NIV)
Jesus can be that friend. He HAD those friends. During his time on this earth many people followed him, as we would follow a famous person today. His name had become well-known. People wanted to see the miracles they had heard about.
Then there were those who actually believed his words, got baptized and got to know him. Of that group he surely had some trusted friends. I believe a few of those may have included Mary, Martha and their brother, Lazarus.
Jesus handpicked twelve people he called his disciples who followed him closer than the others. I find it interesting that one so close to him could betray him. Perhaps he never considered Jesus to be a friend and perhaps he didn’t even believe his words.
Then there were three people of whom he entrusted his deepest secrets and experiences; Peter, James and John. Finally we come across one who seemed to be Jesus’ closest friend, John, who the Bible describes as the one whom Jesus loved.
I often wonder if it was John’s love and surrender to his savior and HIS desire to get closer to the Lord that gave the appearance of Jesus loving him more. If John did write the well-known Gospel of John did he write “the one whom Jesus loved” because of HIS own commitment to Christ? Was it that sacrificial friendship that John had for Jesus that drew Christ to him? Jesus must have understood his heart as he trusted John even at the cross, asking him to take care of his mother in his absence.
John was the only disciple (other than Judas Iscariot who took his own life) who was not martyred for Christ. But John did not escape trials or even torture for his Lord. As Christ died for his disciples, they also gave their lives up for him, which makes the verse, “giving your life for a friend,” even more meaningful. And people give their lives daily for Jesus today, through their life and even to their death.
Jesus did not take friendship lightly and stated, “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.” John 15:15 (ESV)
He not only was he calling the people of that era friends, he was saying the same thing to us today. He says in John 17:20, “I’m not praying only for them. I’m also praying for those who will believe in me through their message.” (GWT)
He sacrificed his life for each of us before we even knew him, before we would consider the fact that we were lost in sin, or that the God of creation cared about us individually.
He calls us friends because he loves us with undying love. And he never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He loved us before we first love him. He will stand by us, support us, cheer for us, encourage us, pray for us, think the best about us (even when we mess up) and has already died for us, rose again for us and one day is coming back for us.
Can there be a better friend than that? Who is that friend that sticks closer than a brother? His name is Jesus. And he chooses YOU to be his friend.