Life is all about friendships. One of the things that I am learning more about is growing a deeper friendship with Jesus. Some of you have been raised in churches — as was I! — where this may sound strange. Yes, Jesus is God’s Son and completely divine. That is rather intimidating, but we should not stop there. Please bear with me on this.
In the Gospel of John, some of the last teachings of Jesus are recorded for us before his sufferings and passion are fulfilled. Please read John 15:12-15. Jesus talks about the definition of true friendship. He says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (verse 13). Jesus died on the cross to show us his deep desire to be our friend.
OK, I get it that the cross was about more. By his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53). Without the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, we could not be freed from the penalty of sin. But it gets too easy to forget that Jesus also died on the cross as the ultimate act of friendship toward all of humankind. These words from John 15 call to us to approach Jesus as a friend, learning to love just as he loved us. If you want to learn to love, learn from the best friend you can ever have, Jesus.
There is so much here to prove friendship. Jesus had to leave Earth, but he did not leave us alone. A good friend never deserts you. Our friend Jesus sends the Holy Spirit as a guide and counselor to all who are born again (John 3:3-6, 14:15-18, 25-27). Jesus even promised that he was going to prepare a place for us and would return to take all his friends to that special place (John 14:1-6).
Of all the disciples, John was perhaps the closest (John 21:20-24). Their mothers were possibly sisters, making John and Jesus cousins. More than that, they were friends. When John pens his gospel, that friendship comes through loud and clear. One only needs to read the entire Gospel of John to see Jesus explained on many different levels. Jesus is the Christ, the Word of God come in the flesh with the fullness of God’s glory in him. Jesus was healer, hope giver, incredible teacher, protector of the weak, challenger of the establishment and friend.
Need to learn more about a friendship with Jesus? Look me up, neighbor. It would be my honor and pleasure to talk more about my friend Jesus with you over something sweet to eat or drink. Take care, neighbors.
The Rev. Ken Hasekamp is pastor of Adventure Christian Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.