by Steve Goff
A true friend is not easily found. A trustworthy advocate who consistently manifests affection for us and who honestly seeks our best interest without ulterior motive is rare in this life. But one such friend available to all men is Jesus Christ. In temptation, we can find no greater comfort than from Him who was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. In tribulation, we have no surer companion, in victory no more joyful comrade. And his actions toward His disciples serve as a perfect illustration of what a true friend is.
Jesus loved His friends. His was not a selfish love, spent as an investment, expecting a reward for feigned affection. Rather, Jesus sought the best for others. And His love for His friends was constant. Not a fair-weather friend, Jesus exemplified Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” He cried at the tomb of Lazarus, even knowing that He would raise this friend from death, prompting someone to say, “Behold how he loved him” (John 11:36). And he performed the ultimate expression of love, giving His own life as a sacrifice for sinners. Jesus explained, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus was loyal to His friends. “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). While teaching at Capernaum, Jesus was told that His mother and brothers waited to speak to Him. His loyalty to His disciples was exhibited by His reference to them as His true kin. “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother" (Matthew 12:50). In life, Jesus forsook personal gain and comfort in order to teach His friends. And after His death and resurrection, Jesus promised his disciples, “… I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Through thick and thin, Jesus is a loyal friend.
Jesus told the truth to His friends. Friends speak the truth, even when the words are hard to utter. A true friend will rebuke and admonish when such is needed. Jesus told the lukewarm Laodiceans, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19). When His disciples displayed a lack of trust during a storm, Jesus rebuked them (Matthew 8:26). Jesus was a friend enough to prepare His disciples with instruction in the will of God. He was a friend enough to warn them of Satan’s deceits which would ensnare even Peter (Matthew 26:31-34). Jesus was a friend enough to express His innermost emotions as He anticipated the agony of crucifixion, saying, “… My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me" (Matthew 26:38). And Jesus displayed concern for His apostles, foretelling of His death and telling them, “Do not let your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1).
Jesus encouraged his friends to be righteous. This is the mark of a true friend. Young people (and others) often mistake interest for friendship. Those who claim to be friends may exert pressure to engage in premarital sex, drinking, taking drugs, or lascivious dancing. But these are not friends. What true friend would encourage action resulting in the loss of one’s soul? A true friend wants us to be what is best. Jesus was that kind of friend, encouraging His followers to shine forth in good works. (Matthew 5:16) and to walk the narrow way which leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus prayed for his friends. in the final hours before His betrayal, Jesus prayed for His disciples. He prayed for their unity (John 17:11). He asked the Father to keep them from evil (verse 15). He prayed for their faithfulness to the truth (verse 17) and for their salvation and reward in heaven (verse 24).
Jesus set an example for his friends. one Lord never asked His disciples to do anything new, untried, on their own. In all things, He paved the way and promised to be with us every step of the way. His impeccable life serves as our example, that we should follow His steps (I Peter 2:21). Teaching obedience, He obeyed even unto death. Teaching love for others, He gave his own life for mankind. Teaching humility, He washed the feet of His servants. Teaching forgiveness, He forgave those who, through hatred and envy, nailed Him to the cross. He the great example is!
From this study, we conclude two great lessons. First, the life of Jesus provides our greatest example of how to trust friends. A true friend acts in love, is loyal to the ed, encourages righteousness, prays for his friends, and sets an example worthy of emulating.
Second, we are reminded that all these benefits of being a friend to Jesus may be claimed by those who obey Him. Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). To know that we have a loving and loyal friend who lived and died for us is to be assured that ours is the best friend a man could ever have. And so with appreciative hearts and fervent voices we sing,
“Jesus is all the world to me.
And true to Him I’ll be;
Oh, how could I this friend deny,
when He’s so true to me?
Following Him I know I’m right.
He watches o’re me day and night;
Following Him by day and night,
He’s my friend."