A FRIEND OF JESUS
Copyright © 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
It is one matter to know the Scriptures, and quite another matter to know Him who wrote the Scriptures. The Bible is not a record of men who knew the Scriptures, but of men and women who knew the Lord. Sometimes religious people do not make the transition from the Scriptures to Jesus. Perhaps when they go to Heaven, they will become acquainted with Him then.
I do not think anyone has more respect for the Scriptures than myself. I hold them to be inerrant and unchangeable. The promises of the Scripture are going to be our guidance and strength during the coming days of moral and physical chaos in the United States.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7)
He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:7)
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. (Psalm 125:1)
We are going to need these promises in the days to come. They will stand securely when everything in which we have trusted is being shaken.
But I feel a need to encourage us to press forward until we know the Lord Jesus as a personal Friend. Abraham was known as the friend of God.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23)
James here was referring to Abraham offering Isaac. Our faith must be shown in our obedience to God if we are to be called God’s friend. The Apostle Paul was revealing his faith by laying aside all else that he might come to know Christ. The Apostle John is thought of sometimes as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Yet, when John saw Christ, as recorded in Revelation chapter one, John fainted. John had seen the resurrected Christ previously. This tells us, then, that there is more to knowing Christ as a personal friend than we ordinarily are aware.
The Lord Jesus Christ is far greater than we have any conception. Not only did the Father create all things through Christ, but in Christ all things hold together. This surely is incomprehensible.
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16,17)
Yet, believe it or not, Jesus wants to be our personal friend. But it does require a period of time, and innumerable experiences and tests, before we even begin to have a personal acquaintance with Him. One of my favorite passages is as follows:
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
I wonder whether you derive the feeling from the passage above that I do. I detect a note of exultant enthusiasm. Jesus is rejoicing at the thought that the people He was addressing are His brothers and worship the same God as He.
I truly believe that Jesus is more anxious to be our friend and brother than we are to have Him in this relationship. We so easily can forget about Jesus while we endure our religious activities. The purpose of every church assembling is to bring people into the Presence of the Man. We all know that. But sometimes we are more conscious of the elements of the service than we are of the living Christ!
The next verse is well known to us.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)
How many times have the above words been used to hold out before us the prospect of a spectacular mansion in Paradise? We miss the whole point of what Jesus is saying. The emphasis is: “take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Jesus is rejoicing that we will be with Him. We are rejoicing that we will be in a splendid house with beautiful surroundings. Could anything more clearly point out our self-love?
Jesus wants us to be with Him. Joseph had the same father as his brothers, although he had been exalted above his brothers. But although Joseph’s brothers had treated him cruelly, they were his family and he loved them and took care of them. His brothers were terrified of Joseph, just as John was terrified of Jesus.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. (Genesis 45:3)
We too would probably faint if Jesus appeared where we are. But this is not what Jesus desires any more than Joseph would have been pleased had his brothers held him in awe and kept at a distance from him. They were his family, and Joseph wanted them to love him. He wanted to know all about their wives and children.
Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. (Genesis 45:14)
While the doctrine of the Trinity is designed to emphasize the Divinity of Jesus Christ, there is one aspect of this doctrine that I believe to be harmful. By leaving the impression that Jesus somehow is the Father in another form, it makes it impossible for us to relate to Him as we would to a friend and brother. I realize that Christ came forth from the Father and that the Father has made Him God to us. Yet, Christ is a Person in His own right.
Was the Father ever a human being? Christ is a human being, fully human and fully Divine. Can we be a brother of the Father? I think not. Can we be the wife of the Father? I think not. Was Jesus praying to Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane? I think not.
The Father is Jesus’ Father and our Father. The Father is Jesus’ God and our God.
Until we can realize that Jesus is God’s Son and we also are God’s sons, and that we have the same Father, I don’t believe we will have the close personal relationship with Jesus that He wants us to have.
Jesus is different from us in terms of His background and the Lordship that the Father has given to Him. But He is not different from us in kind. He has experienced our sufferings and understands what it is like to be a human being constrained by a flesh and blood body.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
The above would not be true of the Father, but it is true of Jesus.
I do not wish to convey the idea that Jesus is an ordinary person, like you or me. Anyone of whom it can be said “all things hold together in Him” is quite a bit above us. Can you imagine how Joseph’s brothers felt when they found out that Joseph was next to Pharaoh in authority over the land of Egypt? Can you imagine how Joseph felt when he saw Benjamin? Joseph would not be pleased that Benjamin remain terrified of him. He wanted Benjamin to love him as a brother.
Jesus does expect us to recognize His supreme position in the Kingdom of God. But much more than that, He wants us to truly accept Him as our best friend. Can we maintain a due consideration of His majesty, and yet grow ever closer to Him as our best friend? I think we can, and I believe He wants this more than we can imagine. Without His friends, Jesus is lonely. He has the universe, the works of His own hands, to admire. He has multitudes of angels to associate with. He has every kind of animal we could imagine. But none of these are the offspring of His own Father, made in His Father’s image.
It is time for us to come to know the Lord, and we accomplish this by talking to Him about all we are doing every day and every night. We keep looking to Him for what we are thinking, saying, and doing until we are reflecting His thinking, saying, and doing.
I was reading John chapter 15 the other day, and I was struck with the Lord’s desire to be close to us.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
I realize that the verse above is familiar to all of us. But when you think about it, it shows us the difference between the religion of Christianity, and the Man, Christ Jesus.
We Christians ordinarily are thinking of our church or of Heaven. It may be difficult for some of us to grasp the fact that our religion, our salvation, is not a place, or a social gathering, but a Person.
But what does it mean to remain in Christ? It means to always be conscious of Him. From the time we wake up in the morning, Christ should be foremost in our thinking. I know such devotion may seem unattainable to a new Christian. But it is a way of life well worth pursuing.
We must make many decisions each day, most minor, some major. We can proceed according to our own wisdom and experience. Or we can present each issue to Jesus for His solution. This especially is true concerning our worries, often about our health, or our family, or our employment. Unless we prefer to go about with these problems on our back, we can take each one to the Lord Jesus and pray until we know He has heard us. When we know He has heard us, we know the problem has been solved. Since we face so many decisions each day, if we practice bringing each issue to Jesus, we will begin to know Him personally. His love, power, knowledge, and wisdom are infinite, so we soon learn that He can be trusted to take care of us.
One of the “faces” of Christ is that of an ox. He is a burden bearer, and no one can bear burdens like Jesus. He always is making intercession for us personally. It is a marvel to me that people prefer to worry and fight their way through life rather than place their trust in the Lord Jesus to help them. As the old hymn says, “Oh what pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer” (What a Friend We Have in Jesus).
For myself, I have adopted the attitude of Paul. The things of the world are growing dim, as the poet said. I am pressing toward that which is before me, which is friendship with Jesus.
At this time, many people are saying that our president is the second coming of Christ. I have not read that he has denied this praise. This fact, plus the practice of abortion, and the unnatural sexual and gender activities, are going to bring on our country the wrath of God.
If we are to stand during the chaos that is on the horizon, and to help others to stand, we will need much more than the customary Christian experience in America. During the coming fires, floods, wars, earthquakes, and other calamities, we will need to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal friend—that is, if we are to survive spiritually and physically.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
(“A Friend of Jesus”, 3744-1, proofed 20210831)