A Friend of Jesus – 15-October-2023

Mother Teresa on prayer:

“Prayer is not asking.  Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and LISTENING to His voice in the depths of our hearts.  Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

In my times of silence, by necessity, I’ve been ALONE, and I’ll admit, sometimes feeling LONELY.

I think maybe this is the reason why people avoid silence.

But being alone and feeling lonely are two different things.

Being alone can allow us to enter into a peaceful solitude.

But loneliness is like an empty ache: A vague sense of not mattering or not belonging.

It feels lousy – it is sad and nostalgic.  It’s a longing to feel “at home” and in the peace of solitude.

Robert Frost: “Home is the place that when you go there, they have to let you in.

He was not just speaking of a physical abode but the web of relationships we build as we go through life.

We are “at home” when we are with people we know who care for us.

Caring was at the foundation of how Jesus took care of people.  He was there for them when they needed Him and cared for them in the way they needed Him to.

Jesus was willing to enter into their painful situations without knowing beforehand what to do. 

He was present for them as God transformed their pain.

He remains a friend who cares for us and one with whom we can feel “at home” and not be lonely.

A Friend – is a person you know, like, and trust, one you can be allied with in a struggle or cause.

Jesus is a friend like that.  How many would like to be Jesus’ friend?

He’d be an awesome friend to have, right?

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The only way to have a friend is to be a friend.” 

Walter Winchell: “A real friend is one who walks IN when the rest of the world walks OUT.”

Lynn Wine: “A true friend is one who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.”

True friends are there for you when you’re in crisis because that’s what’s needed.  True friends are there for you REGARDLESS the situation.

When there is a crisis in our lives, we’d want Jesus to be there for us – wouldn’t we?  When I know Jesus is there, it makes me feel a lot better.

John 15:15 – “I no longer call you servants – I call you friends.

We might not feel that what He said relates to us.

I want to take a look at some of the people He chose to be His friends back in the day, OK?

Peter: – was a problematic guy who had “issues”:

  1. Proud
  2. Tempestuous
  3. Impetuous
  4. He denied his relationship with the Lord

Yet, Jesus called him to be the head of the church.

Picture this: You pull up to the church, and there’s a big brawl going on, and there are hundreds of soldiers fighting the church people.

Suddenly, a guy pulls out a large knife and cuts off another guy’s ear.  Then, you realize the guy with the knife is your PASTOR!

I’d like a friend who’d go to that kind of extreme to defend me.

I’d also like a friend who could put it back on.

Galatians 2:11-12 – Paul confronted Peter for being a man-pleaser, eating with the Gentiles only when the Jewish believers were not present.

Matthew 17:4 – Mt of Transfiguration – Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are having a conversation when Peter blurts out about building three shrines for them.

He spoke when he should have been listening: rude and disrespectful.

Character traits: proud, impetuous, had a temper, a man-pleaser, rude, spoke out of turn and was disrespectful, denied Jesus.

Thomas – Didn’t believe.  (John 20:19-25) Add “Disbelief to the list.”

John, the Apostle of love – One of the “Sons of Thunder” who wanted to call fire down on people and consume them just because they didn’t receive Jesus (dissed Him) (Luke 9:51-53)

What kind of spirit was he filled with?  The Spirit of Murder.  Imagine that!

Hey, this was a tough crowd Jesus chose to hang with.

Interesting: Jesus rebuked John and James but didn’t say.  “OK, you’re done.”

So, now you have a Pastor who cuts people’s ears off and church elders who literally want to kill people.

Now wait – Matthew 20:20 – These same guys want to be given a title in the church.  So, what do they do?  They bring their mother to ask for them.  THEY BROUGHT THEIR MOM!

I think Jesus withheld the title because He knew the kind of stuff they’d be in.

A friend will do that sometimes to ensure a good outcome.

Add: Murder spirit, Presumption, Sectarianism or bigotry (against Samaritans) 

Luke 8:1-3 – Speaks of the women who were traveling with Him being ”healed of evil spirits”.  Maybe prostitutes?

Mark 9:38 – John spoke up and said, “Teacher, we noticed someone was using your name to cast out demons, so we tried to stop him because he wasn’t of our group.”

“Hey, you!  Leave that demon in that person.  You can’t do that stuff – you don’t go to our church!”

This was quite a crowd Jesus was traveling with.

OK – so what’s my point in all this?

The point is:  none of these guys had “halos” at the start –  but despite all the flaws, He loved them.  Not just because He had to but because He WANTED to.

Mark 3:13-15(TPT) – ”Afterward, Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Himself the men He wanted to be His close companions, so they went up to join Him.  He appointed the Twelve, whom He named Apostles.  He wanted them to be continually at His side as HIS FRIENDS, and so that He could send them out to preach and have authority to heal the sick and to cast out demons.”

He called – They came – He ordained them to preach, heal, and cast out demons.

It was a two-fold ordination, the first being: TO BE WITH HIM.

It didn’t matter that they were easily angered – unbelieving, had a murderous spirit – were arrogant or prideful, or were “mama’s- boys.”

It didn’t matter that other people were shaking their religious heads, saying, “Look at that crew of losers.  Man, what a crumby crowd!”

What matters is – He says, “These are the ones I want.”

The message today is – “YOU ARE WANTED BY THE LORD!.”

It’s good to hear me say that, I know, but to actually KNOW it would be even better, wouldn’t it?

My prayer today is as Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus:

Ephesians 3:17-18 – “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width, and length, and depth, and height, TO KNOW the love of Christ which passes knowledge, (so) that you may be filled with the fullness of the Lord.”

PM and I have been able to do what we have done over the last 27+ years:

  1. Because of the big bucks we get from the church, along with the incredible benefits package and 
  2. Because it’s been easy to do with no interpersonal conflicts to navigate 
  3. Because it’s easier than getting hung on a cross

Of course not – We can do it only because the Lord wants us to do it.

When you KNOW that God wants you to do something, a lot of the personal neurosis fades into the background.

Don’t listen to the voice of the enemy.  He wants to get you off balance and off focus.

Just remember that Jesus took a bunch of people with a lot of flaws and transformed them into a band of godly warriors that upended the world.

It doesn’t matter what’s said about you from the outside voices – it’s just chatter.

What matters is That you’ve got a friend in Jesus – A TRUE friend!

Revelation 2:17 – says the victorious will get a new name.

I want mine to be: “Friend of Jesus.”