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What a Friend we have in Jesus

By REV. DANNY GODDARD - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

Have you ever felt like you didn’t have a friend in the world? In January 1976 I left my home in Atlanta and moved to Nashville to attend college. I had just lost Dad a few days before. Mom had been gone two years. I have never felt as alone as I did my first day in Tennessee. Never will I forget Michael Blankenship, a young student who befriended me right away and we are friends to this day.

The word “friend” in the dictionary is “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” The Urban Dictionary adds that a true friend “knows all of your internet passwords.” Blind Helen Keller remarked, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” But when it comes to friendship, the best to learn from is Jesus …

Jesus chose His friends. We’ve heard that we should “choose our friends wisely!” That’s what Jesus did. To His disciples, He pointed out, “You did not choose Me, but I chose You.” (John 15:16) Jesus offered an invitation, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” (Matthew 11:28, The Message)

On occasion, Jesus even hung out with the wrong crowd! “And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus.” (Matthew 2:15) Multitudes followed Him, but Jesus was very selective in choosing His friends: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) What a wonderful feeling to know that you have been selected, chosen, picked out to be a friend of Jesus!

Someone said, “The company you keep determines who you are.” Why would a person say that? …

1. Our friends influence our emotions. A positive person can lift your mood while “Debbie Downer” can drain you of joy.

2. We have an uncontrollable urge to conform, driven by two powerful needs: To be liked and to be right. It feels good to be accepted.

3. Our friends influence what we do. Our character traits are shaped by those around us. Do you have little self-control? Then surround yourself with people who are opposite.

4. Our friends create our habits. Do you want to develop better, more positive habits? Then run with those who already have those behaviors.

5. We learn by watching. “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6) If we say we are Christians, then we should follow the Example of Christ. 

Jesus chose His friends, but He also clued-in His friends. In John 15:14, Jesus said, “You are my friends.” The Greek word here means “a friend at court.” It describes the inner circle around a king or emperor. Friends of a king would be close, they would even know his secrets.

Finally, Jesus committed His Life for His friends. He proved His love for them. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

After revealing these things to His disciples, Jesus prayed in a garden. Under tremendous stress, His sweat became great drops of Blood! During the night He was tried, beaten, and forced to carry His own Cross to the place of crucifixion! He was nailed to that Cross, upon which He bled and died. He was buried in a borrowed Tomb, but three days later, He was raised from dead, just as He had promised!

Today He calls you and me not to be acquaintances, but to be friends! Can you call Jesus your personal Friend?

Rev. Danny Goddard is senior pastor at New Castle First Church of the Nazarene.