Demonstrating God’s Love Together
Bigwords - Friends
John 11:1 - 44
Somehow, we’ve got the idea that our own Christian lives, our spiritual growth and discipleship, is largely an individual affair. It’s about our personal faith, our decision of commitment, our prayer-life, quiet-time, bible reading, acts of service etc.
Now, of course, there is good reason for that. Faith is personal, God does desire an individual relationship with us … but becoming a disciple of Jesus is always a corporate activity, you can’t do it on your own. The key instructions for Christian discipleship, in particular the NT letters, are, in stark contrast to a modern Christian book-shop, mostly written to groups. Of the 21 New Testament letters, 14 are addressed to groups of people, only 4 to individuals (3 we are not so sure about.)
‘It is not good for man to be alone’ Once again all of this goes back to Genesis. We are built, hard-wired, for relationship – we spoke about family a few weeks back, and we’ll be looking at sexual relationships in a couple of weeks time, but the most common of all relationships can sometimes be over-looked and forgotten, yet is so vital – friendship.
Friendship is a necessary and powerful thing – a pure form of relationship where the only bond between people is the desire to be their for each other. David was described as a friend of God and Proverbs talks about God as a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Jesus was mocked as a ‘friend of sinners’. Altogether, one of the more extraordinary of biblical suggestions is that of Jesus as our friend.
Can you imagine being a friend of Jesus? The story that we read is a powerful one not only because of the resurrection, but because of what it says about Jesus and Lazarus, a case-study in friendship.
Friendship is Powerful
Not second rate or childish.
Jesus loved (3 & 36),
Friendship Looks Out for the Other
Not self-centred or backward looking.
Jesus wished the best for, hoped for (4),
Friendship is Practical
Not merely extending warm thoughts or good wishes.
Jesus Acted (11),
Friendship is Emotional
Not lacking compassion or being unwilling to be, or to be seen to be, affected. When Jesus saw the effect on Mary, not the fact of death itself, he was angered (enebrimesato), agitated (etaraxen) and anguished.
Jesus was moved by (33) and wept over (35),
John 15:13-15: “Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 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.”