Today’s Scripture: John 15:12-17
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
I had a friend in seminary who was the part-time music minister at a small church just outside of Ft. Worth. One Sunday night (yes, they still had Sunday night worship!) he picked the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” out of the hymnal to sing. Latter that week he had a conversation with a group of church members about how he was never to sing that song again.
You see, according to these church members, Jesus is not our friend – he’s our savior. Calling Jesus friend, in their opinion, made Jesus into a buddy that you pal around with instead of a savior to worship. I see their point. Wait, no I don’t.
Jesus is explicit here about calling his disciples (and us) his friends. I don’t think it can be clearer in the text. Jesus is reminding us that he is doing everything a friend does: he chooses, he loves, he confides, he lays down his life. It’s all there. What a friend we have in Jesus!
And the best thing is, Jesus does not leave his disciples. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they were still able to connect with Jesus even after he ascended to heaven. And we have that same Holy Spirit! The risen Christ is available here and now and is still our friend.
Maybe the writer of that old hymn was on to something. So, in an act of defiance that has been almost 30 years in the making, I want us to read the words to the 2nd and 3rd verses of that hymn today and remember: what a friend we have in Jesus!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer:
Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge; Take it to the Lord in prayer:
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.
On Sunday we are going to sing a modern hymn that has these same sentiments. It’s called “He Will Hold Me Fast”. You can listen to it and follow the lyrics here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=936BapRFHaQ
God sometimes we can feel all alone. Remind us this day that Jesus is a friend we can turn to no matter where we are, what we are going through, or how lonely we might feel. May this day be filled with