Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

Rows Jesus had: the value of a friend    (11/14/2010)


How do you feel when one of your friends does something wrong? When someone close to you behaves in a way which is dishonest, dishonourable, cruel, or simply unacceptable? Honestly?

At the moment, we’re looking at some of the arguments, or rows, which Jesus had. We have seen how he confronts those around him when necessary, but one of the amazing things is the way he speaks to his closest friends on some occasions.

Once, Peter tried to prevent Jesus going to Jerusalem where he was almost certain to get into all sorts of trouble. Peter was right; Jesus ended up getting killed. Peter’s motives weren’t necessarily bad; which of us wouldn’t (indeed, shouldn’t), try to stop a friend getting into trouble? But Jesus called him a devil, literally the devil, or satan, and told him to get out of his way.

I can just imagine what it would do to my friendships if I spoke to people like that!

On another occasion, while Jesus was up a mountain for a little while, his disciples tried to heal a boy. There’s nothing wrong with that; Jesus had told them that this is what they were meant to be doing. However, they don’t get on that well in this instance, and when Jesus gets down and rejoins them and discovers their ‘failure’, he lumps them and the onlookers together in what he calls a ‘perverse and foolish generation’.

‘So what?’ some would say. This just proves that Jesus was human and that he had bad moments, too. Certainly Jesus was human, but we also know that he didn’t sin. So what was going on when he said hard things to his friends? There are a number of important lessons we need to learn about true friendship here.

In the first instance, Peter was putting human well-being above the things of God. If he had had his way, Jesus would not have gone to the cross—and you and I could not be saved. Jesus knew that true friendship never got in the way of God’s good plan being worked out; rather, true friendship always works towards the best for the other person, even when that best is hard.

In the second, Jesus expresses his frustration that his friends weren’t fully focused on God, and that’s why their attempts at healing weren’t successful. After all, friendship is not about celebrating weakness—it’s also about urging one another on, inspiring and encouraging each other.

True friendship needs occasional hard words as well as many kind ones. That’s why Proverbs [OT] chapter 27, verse 6, tells us that the wounds of a friend are more precious than the kisses of an enemy.

That’s also why God will challenge and rebuke us—if we are willing to listen. Hard messages don’t prove that God doesn’t love us… it’s because he is our closest friend that he asks us to change, to turn our backs on sin, and to seize the fullness of life which only he can offer.

Pray: Lord Jesus, thank you that you hold out the hand of friendship to me and that your friendship is always true and good. Give me grace to hear your words spoken over me in love; to be shaped by you, freed by you, and saved by you today and every day I live. Amen.

Think about: Have you received any hard words recenly? How might they be a help to you?

Challenge: Are you tempted to ignore ot even support your friends’ weaknesses? How might you be a better friend to others?

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