Jesus has many titles and many ways of relating to us and to the world. Jesus is Lord, teacher, prophet, priest, Messiah (Christ), Son of God, Word of God, God incarnate, Emmanuel (God with us), brother, shepherd, and more.
One important title and role of Jesus’ is that of friend. We are reminded in John’s Gospel that when Jesus was talking with his disciples after washing their feet he called them his friends.
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. John 15:15
The role of friend is an important one for Jesus in our lives. By being our friend, he reminds us of the intimacy, solidarity, and fun that should be a core part of our relationship with him.
Intimacy in that as our friend he knows us well, better than any other friend we have and in that knowledge he loves us deeply. He knew the stories and actions of so many he encountered, the woman at the well, Peter and his betrayal, Zaccheus, and he knows our stories and our actions as well.
In his solidarity with us Jesus shows us what true friendship is, when we stick with one another, through thick and thin, through highs and lows. His solidarity with us is so great that he experienced the breadth and depth of human life, the vulnerability of being an infant, the joy of weddings and human relationships when he was in Cana, the loss of a friend at the death of Lazarus, the pain of betrayal at Peter’s denial and Judas selling him out. His solidarity went all the way to the cross where he experienced pain and death on the cross. In the years he was on earth Jesus experienced so much of human life and thus he stands beside us in solidarity in all life brings our way.
Jesus also wants to have fun with us. Many accused him of being a glutton and drunk, because he was so often eating with others. Jesus spent time enjoying the company of others, he wasn’t preaching and teaching 24/7. Jesus wants to enjoy our company too.
The invitation to follow Jesus includes the invitation to be his friend and let him be ours. It includes letting him know us intimately, being open to his solidarity with us, and accepting his invitation to fun. It also means returning all of those, as friendship is a mutual endeavor. So we must get to know him intimately, stand in solidarity with him (and his people), and have fun with him.
May we all come to be friends with Jesus, because he wants to be our friend.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.