Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Friend of God

Several years ago, as a counselor at a youth retreat, I listened as the youth minister closed the weekend with an informal communion service. He began with words similar to words I had heard so many times before, “And on that night, Jesus met with several of his friends for a special dinner . . .”
I have no idea what he said after that because my mind went off into another world. I was simply overwhelmed with emotions as I contemplated what it must have been like to have been one of Jesus’ friends. What it must have been like to know the man; to have spent virtually every minute of every day for three years with him!
What would it have been like to warm my hands over the campfire with Jesus? What joy to have shared a good “belly laugh” with him as we walked beside the Sea of Galilee. Oh, to have felt his embrace as I returned from time away from him preaching the good news (Mark 6:30).
Did Jesus prefer dates or olives? When skipping stones on the Jordan, did Jesus throw with his left or his right hand? Did he speak with a Galilean accent as did Peter? What was his favorite color? Was he an early riser? What size sandal did he wear?

He was a man - like me - and his friends would have known these things (and more) about the man from Galilee.
The Gospel accounts are sprinkled with glimpses into the humanity of Jesus – those things that show that he was a man and experienced the same things in this life that we do. For example:
> He was born (Luke 2:6-7) and he died (Mark 15:37)
> He was circumcised as every good Jewish boy was (Luke 2:21)
> He learned and he grew – through adolescence and puberty (Luke 2:52)
> He was scolded by his mom (Luke 2:48)
> He had a family (Matt. 13:55, Mark 6:3)
> He experienced hunger (Mark 11:12, Matt. 4:2) and thirst (John 4:7, 19:28)
> He worked at a job (Mark 6:3)
> He was tempted (Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:13)
> He cried (John 11:35 - death of a friend, Luke 19:41) and experienced sorrow and anguish (Matt. 26:38). Yet he knew joy as well (John 15:11, 17:13)
> He dealt with stress (Luke 22:44) and disappointment (Matt. 23:37)
> He got tired and needed rest (Mark 4:38, John 4:6)
> He became angry (Matt. 16:23, 17:17, 21:12-13, Mark 3:5)
> He knew poverty (Luke 9:58, Matt. 8:20)
> He understood love (John 11:36, 15:12-13)
> He felt compassion (Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32)
> He sang songs (Mark 14:26)
> He needed to pray (Matt. 14:23, 26:36)
> He was amazed (Matt. 8:10)

But why is it important that Jesus was a man and that he experienced the same things we do? Because a sacrifice had to be made to reconcile a lost world to God. And while that sacrifice had to be completely free from sin, it would have been too small a thing for a God who is totally incapable of sinning to be that sacrifice. Instead, a human body and soul had to be prepared (Heb. 10:5-10). “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” Heb. 2:17 (NIV).
Jesus is completely able to understand and sympathize with our weaknesses and infirmities because he went through every single thing that we have, yet he did so, as a 100% man, without sinning. (Heb. 4:15)
When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death - and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth - even those long ago dead and buried - will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.” Phil. 2:7-11 (MSG)

What an incredible man! What an awesome Savior! What a glorious God!
We may often think that there were only a few men and women who had the inconceivably blessed opportunity on this earth to be friends of this man from Galilee.
But that is not the case.
Jesus calls us his friends. (John 15:15) And he makes it possible for us to know him better and better every day.
It may be a while before we know the color of Jesus’ eyes and whether he likes olives on His pizza, but we can learn more about his heart each day.
Are you investing in that friendship the same way Jesus has?

A friend of God,
Craig Hollingsworth

No comments:

Post a Comment