There are days that I just need to pick up my phone and call a friend. It’s refreshing to hear a cheerful voice, even if the call is to talk about nothing important, the joy in a friend’s voice brings a sweetness to my spirit.
We desire to have relationship and we were created for friendship.
There many friendships we can read about in the Bible, Johnathan and David and Ruth and Naomi, just to name a few. There are many lessons to be learned from each of these friendships, but I find it so important to look at the friendships that Jesus had and glean from those too.
If we really want to understand, learn, and grow as a friend then we must look at the one, true, and loyal friend.
We know Jesus had many friends and a multitude of followers but for now let’s dive into His closest circle.
Fundamental 1: We get to choose our circle.
Jesus chose 12 men to be His disciples, to be the ones who would see the most intimate parts of His journey and life.
Jesus’ choice: Simon “Peter”, Andrew, James and John, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James and Jude, Simon and Judas.
There is nothing wrong with choosing who you let in close to you. We mustn’t act caddy and clickish, but we can be selective. Jesus picked those who would walk the distance with Him, would support the mission, though they didn’t fully understand it at the time. You can choose your close friends. Choose those who believe in you and are willing to go the distance with you.
Fundamental 2: We will get hurt.
Of Jesus’ twelve friends one was the worst kind of friend, Judas was a literal sell-out. Jesus knew that you and I would face the hurt of betrayal by friends and was so good to teach us how to handle that hurt.
Jesus knew Judas would make the choices that would separate the two of them revealing to us that we will have friends that make choices that will separate us but that does not mean we don’t make friends.
Jesus didn’t decide not to make friends or build relationships because he knew someone would betray Him. No, in spite of knowing the betrayal that lay ahead Jesus made friends and loved well anyway. Just because we have been hurt by friends in the past or we may even be hurt by friends in the future doesn’t mean we build walls to attempt to keep betrayal at a distance. No, we love well anyway and trust that Jesus is already taking care of our heart in the process.
In Matthew 26:46-50 we read that Jesus has been in the garden of Gethsemane praying when He tells the disciples “Get up, let’s go! Look, My betrayer is near.” Jesus talking about Judas calls him a betrayer. Then a few verses later Jesus and Judas meet face to face, Judas kisses Jesus and then Jesus says, “Friend, do what you’ve come to do.” Now Jesus is calling him friend.
I believe we see a key to friendship here. Jesus clearly knows Judas is a betrayer, the worst friend, He is not in denial about that. But Jesus in His goodness and grace, calls him friendto his face, extending a love that was undeserved.
We too must learn to be wise and allow the Holy Spirit to show us the true character of those we are friends with but also allow the Holy Spirit to give us the grace and love in the middle of hurt. We must remember that we have been extended a grace and love beyond what we deserve. So even in the pain of broken friendship let us choose love.
Fundamental 3: We have layers and inner circles
With 11 disciples by His side, Jesus enters the garden of Gethsemane and we see something unique take place.
In Matthew 26:37 Jesus tell His disciples to sit here while He goes over there to pray. In my mind I picture all eleven of them slowly start lowering themselves to the ground when He says to Peter, James, and John to come a bit further. The three of them raise back up to walk with Jesus a little further while the eight sits down.
· The EIGHT that sat first were some of Jesus’ favorite friends, but He didn’t take them deep into the garden with Him. They were each faithful friends, who served Him with their whole hearts, but there are friends, good close friends, who we don’t let in on every part of life. Jesus had told them His time was coming, He let them in to deep moments, but He didn’t let them into every moment and every emotion.
· The THREE then continued with Jesus a bit further into the garden. Jesus tells Peter, James, and John that His soul is deeply grieved to the point of death and they should stay and keep watch. These three friends experienced the deeper moment with Jesus, they were the one who saw the 12-year-old girl healed when the other didn’t get to (Mark 5:37) and they were ones who saw him transfigured (Matt. 17;1). There are friends to see our deep grief and our moments of glory, they see the deep part of our heart and soul. It’s okay to not let everyone into this part of our lives, it’s sacred.
· The ONE, John, Jesus’ closest friend. Jesus gave John the honor of caring for His mother Mary once He as gone. John was given Jesus’ most beloved gift, His mother. There aren’t many people we trust our family too, but Jesus trusted John, His closest friend.
We each play many roles in friendships. To some we aren’t even in their twelve and others we may be their three or even one. What is important is that you value and know your role within each context of friendship. Real friends are not competing to be every persons 1 or to be in as many circles as they can. True friends know their position with every friend and serve and love well in that role.
Fundamental 4: Only One Matters
Last go back to the garden for just a moment. As Jesus and the eleven are walking, the eight sit. Then Jesus and the three travel a bit further and He shares a little part of his heart and feelings and tells them to stay. Then Jesus, alone, walks a little further, and the Word says, “He fell face down and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let the cup pass from Me! Ye not as I will, but as You will!’”
Jesus took the deepest, most intimate part of His heart to the Father. He didn’t share it with the multitude, the eight, His mother, or the three, only the Father. There is only one Friend that truly understands our most vulnerable cry.
Yes, we have friends to share with, but we must be aware our friends cannot fix and maybe cannot even understand the deepest cry in our heart, only the Holy Spirit can do that. We have a true friend in Jesus, and through Him, we become the friend we need to be to those around us.
Friend, I encourage you to take a few moments and spend it with the best friend you will ever have, Jesus and ask Him to help you be the friend He has called you to be to those around you. If your heart has been hurt by a friend, talk to Him about it, He is good and faithful to heal it. Take time to thank Him for calling you friend and for loving you, but then take time to share the deepest parts of your heart. Dive deep into that friendship, you won’t regret it!