Friendship is a gift from God to help us bear life’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). True friends help us become who God wants us to be by telling us what we need to hear even when it is difficult (Proverbs 27:5-6). A good friend can be closer to us than our own flesh and blood (Proverbs 18:24).
Consider how Jesus is the ultimate example of these characteristics of a true friend. Jesus is the ultimate gift from God: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” (John 3:16). The Father gave His Son to bear the burden of our sins, a burden we could not bear alone, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus gave up much to come to earth and live human life for a third of a century (Philippians 2:5-7). He can empathize with our sadness, anger, and fatigue. He knows the heartache of a friend’s betrayal. He knows what it is like to be tempted, but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15); instead, He went to the cross for us. He is the true friend, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus has words for us that we need to hear. If we reject His words in this life, we will be judged by them in the last day (John 12:48). However, to those who are willing to listen, Jesus says, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). The words of Jesus are not popular. Not all of them will make a person feel comfortable. However, they are the words of eternal life (John 6:68). So, we must choose if we will go with Jesus, or go with the popular majority; our eternal destiny will be drastically different depending on the choice we make (Matthew 7:13, 14).
Jesus can be closer to us than our own family. Jesus said His family members are those who hear the word of God, and do it (Luke 8:21). A man’s foes may be those of his own household; division can occur in families when one puts family first and another chooses to love Jesus supremely (Matthew 10:35-37). If only family members loved like Jesus. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). Children are to obey their parents, honoring their father and mother (Ephesians 6:1, 2). Jesus always did those things which pleased the Father (John 8:29).
There are few things that are stronger than the love of family, but Jesus’ love for us is one of them. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Paul put it this way: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). We return that love and show that we are friends of Jesus by obeying Him (John 15:14). Since He died for us, we should live for Him (2 Corinthians 5:15). Will you be a friend to Jesus?