Everyone hopes to find the perfect friend: one who is always there for you and one who will support you at all times. Some of us have truly been blessed with one or more people that we trust explicitly, and with whom we share that common bond of life experience and history. But how often have we actually been that friend for others, even those closest to us?
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24
You have to be yourself with your friends, to be there when they need your help and to humble yourself by asking for help when you need it. In the book of Luke, Jesus instructs His disciples that friends are there for each other no matter the inconvenience or the time of day, much as God is always there for us as a trusted friend. We can count on them at all times:
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him and midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves. For a friend of mine in his journey is come ot me and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. —Luke 11:5-10, KJV
How would we react if our friend called upon us in the middle of the night? Would we go to the door, answer the phone and put ourselves at their service? Is this what we would expect of them should emergencies arise? Would we go even farther than they would be willing to go and extend our hand in friendship to even a greater extent? Is this not the meaning of true friendship, and is this not the type of friend we want to be? Just think of Jesus and Lazarus.
When Lazarus died, Jesus knew that this was the beginning of His end, that this miracle would put Him up before the judge and jury that would ultimately put Him to death, as foretold and promised to His mother Mary all those years ago. Did that stop Him from journeying to His friend’s family? Did that stop Him from resurrecting His friend at Lazarus’ sisters’ pleas?
These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. —John 11:11, KJV
The disciples didn’t understand, and said that if He was sleeping, He would be just fine. He continued:
Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. —John 11:13-15, KJV
Jesus expressed that, for His disciples’ sake, He was glad He wasn’t there when His friend died, but He still felt compelled to make the journey to be with the family. While many Jews went to Martha and Mary for comfort, they really wanted to see Jesus. Martha confronted Him, acknowledging Him as the Christ, the son of God.
Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. —John 11:20-27, KJV
Mary was upset that Jesus hadn’t been there when her brother fell ill. She was hurt and confused and Jesus was also devastated.
The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. —John 11:31-35, KJV
“Jesus wept” is one of the shortest verses of the Bible, but one of the most poignant. It shows His humanity and His raw emotions in those two little words, and also acknowledged both the fact that His friend has died and He had no recourse but to resurrect him. And so He does:
Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. —John 11:36-44, KJV
Jesus the man and friend did not want to see His friend dead, to experience his reawakening. But Jesus the Christ knew what He had to do to fulfill His destiny. He knew that this act would brand Him as a threat in the eyes of Caiaphas, the high priest, who would ultimately decide that He should die for the sake of the nation. Jesus performed the ultimate act of friendship, knowing the consequences.
None of us should be called to perform this service for a friend, but some of us are willing to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of families, neighbors and their friends. To what length would you go to protect those you love, to be there for a friend and to be the type of friend you would want others to be to you? Start with the simple act of telephoning your friends, visiting them whether sick or well, letting them know that you are there for them and love them, no matter what. Be the friend you always wanted to have, and you will experience the joy of knowing that you have given everything you can to show how much you care.