Jump Start # 2379
John 15:15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
I was noticing the other day how often Jesus used the word “friend.” He referred to Lazarus as “our friend” (Jn 11:11). In the parable of the laborers, the master says to the man who labored all day for a denarius, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong” (Mt 20:13). When the crippled man was lowered through the roof in front of Jesus, the Lord said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you” (Lk 5:20). Jesus even called Judas friend when he came into the garden with the guards to arrest Him. There the text says, “Friend, do what you have come for” (Mt 26:50).
Friend. That word seems to have lost it’s value these days. We have tons of friends on Facebook, many we barely know, but there they are as our “friend.” We sing the hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” which not only endears the Lord to us, but it speaks of profound Biblical lessons. Jesus is our friend.
You and I have levels of friends. Some are probably better known as work associates, or business clients. Some are people that we have used in the past for different services. They did a good job at a fair price so we keep their info in our contacts in case we need them again. Would we call them up on a Friday night and ask, “Hey, what are you doing?” Probably not. Would we reach out to them and say, “I have an extra ticket to the game. Do you want to come along?” Nope. That’s not going to happen. Probably wouldn’t invite them over for dinner either.
There are folks that are a bit closer to us that merely associates. Neighbors and some church members may be like that. We share more with them and we can easily talk with them. They are nice and we like them.
Then there are friends that are a bit closer than that. They have a history with us. We’ve done things with them. Been to their home and they have been to our home. We can be ourselves around them. We have a trust built between us.
Then there is that one or two people that we consider our best friend. There are few secrets here. This is our go to person when we really need to talk. This is the one that has sat with us in the hospital and has watched our house. This is the one that may even have a key to our house. Trusted. Reliable. Dependable. We’d drop all that we are doing if they needed us. We’d fly across the country for them. We can talk money, kids, faith and marriage with them.
We refer to all of these circles of relationships as “friends.” Jesus had an inner circle with Peter, James and John. He allowed them to see things that the others didn’t get to see. It was those three at the transfiguration. It was those three who witnessed Jairus’ daughter being raised from the dead. James was the first apostle to be martyred. John was the last apostle to die. Between Peter and John, they wrote seven of the N.T. books. The first half of Acts follows the travels of Peter. It was Peter who first preached to the Gentiles. Was Peter a better friend than Bartholomew? Was Jesus closer to John than Andrew? Why those three? Why not a combination of another three? Did Jesus have favorites? Our times and our thinking wants us to go that direction. We want to list the apostles by the Lord’s favorites. All this does is create thoughts that probably are not in the Gospels and takes us places that the Lord never intended us to be.
The Lord loved all His apostles. He even washed the dirty feet belonging to the dirty heart of Judas. Our verse today illustrates the true friendship that Jesus had. He didn’t keep secrets between the apostles. Twice when the argument came up among them about who was the greatest, Jesus, deflated that by talking about service. They wanted to know who was number one. Jesus wouldn’t go there. Everyone who loves, obeys and follows Jesus is first on His list.
The characteristics of friendship are demonstrated by Jesus.
- He included them
- He spent time with them
- He told them all things
- He helped them
- He didn’t bend the rules for some
- He didn’t have double standards
- He expected the same from all
It would help us to learn to love like Jesus did. We like lists and we like favorites. Our favorite place to eat, our favorite movie, our favorite vacation spot, our favorite friend. This can spill over into worship. Our favorite song leader. Our favorite preacher. Our favorite elder. These things can hurt feelings, divide folks, and cause more trouble than necessary. When we only spend time with our favorites and ignore those who are not our favorites, we stop acting like Jesus. I’ve known folks who stayed home when certain preachers that they didn’t like were preaching. When we act this way, we develop an internal clique. If you are on the inside you are loved, invited and welcomed. But if you are not, you are avoided and left out. We understand that because of age and like interests that some people naturally have more in common with others. But to exclude others and avoid others is something that Jesus would never do.
I wonder, even in a large congregation, how many feel alone? I wonder how few really have friends within the congregation? It’s hard when someone new comes in. It’s harder yet, when that person is shy. They see everyone talking to each other, but they are never included. They feel empty because no one will be their friend. Jesus wouldn’t be like this. We say that the church is a family and not a country club, but there are days when what we do is not what we are saying.
How can I be a friend like Jesus?
First, stick around and be available. Squeaking in at the last second and rushing out as the final AMEN is uttered, leave no time for people to get to know you. If you do that, you won’t have friends. To be a friend, you have to be friendly. Put on a smile and go meet people.
Second, look around for those who seem to be alone. You see them coming in and few are talking with them. You see the new family. You see the young man sitting by himself. Go over and start up a conversation. Invite them out to eat with your family. Invite them to sit with you. Widen the people of influence that you have.
Third, do what friends do. Send a text during the week. Shoot an email to someone that you don’t know well. Build bridges that will build relationships. Don’t spend all of your time with your friends. Be warm, inviting and including. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you want someone to do to you?
Jesus was a friend. He is our friend. He has helped us so much. Won’t you do the same?