God designed us to live in community and relationship with others. God has perfect fellowship and relationship in Himself between Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Since we are created in the image of God, we crave close fellowship and friendship with others. Friendship is an important part of our makeup.
Proverbs 18:24 declares, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Jesus is that friend. There are many wonderful descriptions of Jesus in the Bible. He is Savior, Lord, Mighty God, High Priest, King, Redeemer, and Wonderful Counselor just to name a few. But one of my favorite portrayals of Jesus is that he is our friend. He is a friend who understands us, empathizes with us, and never leaves us.
In Luke 15 certain religious types accused Jesus of receiving sinners and eating with them. They meant this as a criticism. Jesus not only fully accepted this depiction, but also fully embraced it by telling the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost sons.
“Receive” is from the Greek word “prosdexomai” which means to receive favorably, to take up, to welcome, to receive in a friendly manner, to extend a hand toward, to count as belonging to, to receive willingly, to look forward to, or to wait for. It is in what is called “The Divine Passive.” In other words, God has done everything needed for us to come to him and have a relationship with him. The ball is now in our court. He is waiting for you!
Jesus further demonstrated how he accepts us by eating with sinners. To eat with people is to associate with them, to throw your lot in with them, and not to be ashamed of being with them. To share a meal with someone is to fellowship, to commune and to celebrate with him or her. In Matthew 11:19 the Pharisees accused Jesus of eating with unsavory types and even called him demon possessed, a glutton, and a drunkard. In the following verse it justifies his actions by saying, “Wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Jesus is the personification of Wisdom. Jesus is just and right in receiving sinners. That act demonstrates God’s grace to us. Jesus overcomes the works of darkness through his unbridled pursuit of sinners. It is his joy, his passion, his celebration, and his purpose. Jesus not only wants to be your friend, but also pursues you with utter abandonment.
What does this tell us about the work of Jesus and the purpose of the Father? What does it reveal about friendship with Jesus?
· He receives us just as we are.
· He welcomes us into a relationship with him.
· He is our friend.
· He extends his hand toward us to receive us willingly.
· He wants to receive you and eagerly awaits you.
· He is not ashamed of you.
· He desires to connect and fellowship with you.
· He extends his grace to us.
· He defeated the works of darkness to receive you. No matter what you have done or where you have been, he loves you.
· He pursues you.
· He is passionate about a relationship with you.
We all need friends. A friend shares our joys and sorrows. A friend is there for us no matter what. A friend does not forsake us in our time of need. A friend shares life with us and truly cares about us. A friend wants what is best for us. A friend celebrates our successes and walks with us through our failures. One of the most amazing things about Jesus is that he wants to be our friend! He passionately pursues us so that he can be our friend forever. Will you let him be your friend today?