Jesus as Friend and Companion

(Outline for Discovery Publishing Retreat, May 1999)


It is difficult to separate this relationship from His teaching and discipling relationship with His disciples and followers. We are looking for passages that are more likely to show Jesus acting more as a friend, than a teacher (although the two are closely related, if you do it right, of course!--cf. Luke 12.4: "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.").

God, of course, manifested this aspect of His relationship in the Old Testament, most explicitly with Abraham, Moses, and Job.

But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, (Is 41.8)

"Didst Thou not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and give it to the descendants of Abraham Thy friend forever? (2 Chron 20.7)

"and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. (Jas 2.23)

"Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. 17 And the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? (Gen 18.16)

[compare: The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. (Ps 25.14) and Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence. (Prov 3.31f)]

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. (Ex 33.11)

Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house, (Job 29.4)

The Pattern of the interactions:

One--Communication: He shared His inner self and communicated with them, including them in His experience.

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on. (Mark 12.41ff)

When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me." (John 13.21: )

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." (Matt 26.36)

Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. (Jn 12.27)

  And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." (Mark 8.31f)

[Cf: "If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods'" (Deut 13.6)]

Two--Shared Experience: He engaged in common living and activity with them.
    He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep." (John 11.11) with "Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.(John 12.1-2)
Three--His Commitments "To": He expressed and lived commitments to them, and maintained a strong personal relationship with God, from which to fulfil those commitments.
  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14.27)

(cf: "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."" Luke 10.40ff)

His closest moments of the Supper were after repeated failures during their travels, and His closest moments at the Great Commission and in the post-resurrection appearances were after the betrayal/denial/desertions...

Four--He expected commitments "from": He risked "friendship failures" with them, and communicated clearly His expectations of "their side" of the friendship

[cf. Matt 26.50: "Friend, why have you come?" or "Friend, do what you came for"]

"For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, "Buy the things we have need of for the feast"; or else, that he should give something to the poor." (John 13.29) and "But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5 "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?" 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it." (John 12.4)



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