Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Constant Friend

A man who has friends must
himself be friendly, but there is a friend
that sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24

I read this verse today and all of a sudden it occurred to me that Jesus is the friend that always sticks closer than a brother.
He proved it by dying for us on the cross: by not stepping down from it when God the Father had to forsake Him. Nor did He when everyone surrounding Him told Him to come down to prove He was the Son of God. He could have done it, you know, and still been just. But He did not. Why? Because He was the friend that was sticking closer than a brother for us.

We used to have a saying on our Pennsylvania license plates: "You have a friend in Pennsylvania." But how could that really be said, factually? Did our state do something worthy of garnering the friendship of everyone who visited here? No, but in contrast consider the hymn, "What a Friend we have in Jesus." Because Jesus did not just say He wanted to be our friend. No, He proved it by staying on that cross, with "all our sins and griefs to bear."

I thought about all the interactions Jesus had with people during His ministry here on earth. There was never one time when He rejected someone who came to Him. He did get angry with the Pharisees, but that was because they misrepresented God to the people. Anyone who came to Him personally was never rejected by Him.

Let's look at some other verses where it talks about God being friends with people like us, who could not earn or deserve His friendship in a trillion years. Yet He longs to be our friend!

Exodus 33:11 "So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle."

II Chronicles 20:7 “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?"

Psalm 41:9 "Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,Who ate my bread,Has lifted up his heel against me." (Jesus considered Judas His friend, even though He ultimately knew that Judas would betray Him.)

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times,And a brother is born for adversity." (Can you think of any friend on earth who loves at all times like Jesus does?)

Proverbs 27:6 "Faithful are the wounds of a friend,But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." (Jesus always speaks the Truth to us, but He always does it in love.)

Song of Solomon 5:16 "His mouth is most sweet,Yes, he is altogether lovely.This is my beloved,And this is my friend,O daughters of Jerusalem!" (This is the Shulamite woman speaking of her Beloved in the Song of Solomon, but it also refers to Christ.)

Isaiah 41:8 "But you, Israel, are My servant,Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend."

Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”

Matthew 26:50 "But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him." (Jesus in His humanity considered Judas His friend, even though as the Son of God He knew that Judas would be the one to betray Him.)

John 11:11 "These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

James 2:23 "And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God."

James 4:4 "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (We have to choose daily whether will be God's friend or the world's friend, there is no middle ground.)

This is just a smattering of verses that show that Jesus is the Ultimate Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Think just for a minute, He was God of very God, yet He reduced Himself to become a man so that He could identify with us fully, and ultimately call us His friends.

Oh, what a friend we really do have in Jesus!

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