JESUS IS MY FRIEND
THE JESUS IS SERIES - MARCH 7th, 2021
So, what does it mean for me to say Jesus Is My Friend? I know he has forgiven me; the Bible tells me so. But… but what about the other way around? Have I forgiven him? What about when I felt let down? When I felt judged? When I was mad at him? Was he my friend then? Is he now? Have I forgiven him?
Pastor David gave me the title of the message and the scripture. I read it—and discovered the scripture isn’t about friendship alone, but about the forgiving that friendship requires.
Home of religious leaders:
The scripture describes Jesus at a dinner party in the home of a religious leader. A woman of unsavory reputation was there. I’m going to ignore many of the details such as, First, why is Jesus invited? Simon, the host, is a religious leader; Jesus an itinerate preacher/teacher. What’s his motive? Curiosity? For debate—with a view of putting Jesus down with the strength of the host’s learned arguments?
Second part of the story I’ll have to ignore also: the surprise: This woman! in the bible Women didn’t crash men’s parties, at least not this kind of party, hosted by a religious leader. Women served the men, then quickly disappeared and stayed in the background. And for certain, this woman would not have been welcome, not in a respectable household. Not with her reputation. She “lived a sinful life…” She not only has crashed the party, but she’s making a spectacle of herself. She is at the same time, both Humble—stood behind him—and bold, almost brazen– all this attention to Jesus’ feet, wiping the tears from his feet with her hair. As I said, a bit of a spectacle.
We could also spend some time on the host’s reaction. It’s one aspect of this story that’s not at all surprising. He thinks Jesus is a fake. A real prophet would know what kind of woman she is and would cast her out of his presence.
Instead, we’ll pay attention to Jesus’ reaction to the host’s reaction.
Jesus’ scolds the religious leader and tells him a little story. We’ll concentrate on the story in these bible verses, because it gets right at the heart of what it takes to hold a friendship together—friendship with Jesus, friendship with anyone a: 40 … “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” Jesus agrees with him. “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
What makes up friendship?:
Debt and love and forgiveness; these are at the heart of friendship.
Have you noticed how many complaints against God can be found in the Psalms? Here are just a couple:
(Psalm 13:1-6) How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart….
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?”
My God why have you forsaken me?:
Do you recognize this one? Jesus quoted the first part on the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Psalm 22:1-2
Complaints to Praise:
But– in each of these Bible passages, the writer starts out complaining but ends up praising. Here’s the truth:
- God is big enough to be patient with our outbursts.
- Jesus is still our friend, even when we lash out.
Mature enough to forgive God:
Here’s the real question: Are we mature enough to forgive God? To forgive what we don’t understand, what seems so wrong in the moment?
In these Psalms—anger, disgust, confusion—but faith! You don’t get mad at what doesn’t exist, you don’t work up your temper against someone who means nothing to you.
Many of us have claimed friendship with Jesus christ for a long time. Does that mean we’ve never been upset? Even angry? It’s taken a lot of forgiveness. We speak a great deal of how we’ve been forgiven by Jesus. But the subject here is whether we’ve forgiven. What about when we have a gripe with God? When things just don’t seem to be going our way? When our prayers aren’t answered to our satisfaction? If we’re having trouble in our personal walk with Jesus, is it possible that it’s because we’re harboring resentment, dismay, even anger?
OK, as I’ve been talking, I’m sure you’ve been thinking with me. Can you sing—and mean— “What a friend we have in Jesus”? If not, I suspect you’re still carrying a grudge, still upset about that time when you didn’t get what you wanted, what you thought you deserved, something you haven’t forgiven God for. I’ve been there with you. It’s a dark place to be in. But if you could sing the song, it’s not because you’ve never felt wronged, never been upset, never been angry. It’s because you’ve learned the secret of true friendship, of long-term relationships. They are held together by forgiveness and grace. We’re saved by grace, we know that. Our important relationships are also saved by grace, our grace, which flows in both directions. And when it does, oh boy, “What a Friend we have in Jesus….”
What a friend we have in Jesus lyrics:
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer