Jesus, a Friend!
"There is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:23
Who do you think this Friend is? JESUS! You are right. I was sure you could not hesitate a moment — it is indeed the man Christ Jesus. "There is no other name under Heaven given among men," to which this character so properly belongs. Men of high degree are vanity, and men of low degree are a lie, and men of every degree are broken reeds — there is no dependence upon any of them. They speak fair, and for a little carry it fair — but they fail at last. Either through fickleness or frailty, from insincerity or inability — they fail us when most we need their help. Not so our "elder brother," our Divine friend — He is Christ Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Say now, Christian, could I have mentioned one with whom you would rather wish to spend an hour? To you, I know He is precious — at all times precious.
Jesus Christ is the most ancient friend — this is a circumstance which should greatly endear Him to us. "Your own friend, and your father's friend, forsake you not;" intimating that such a person — one who had been a fast friend to our family for a great number of years — is to be highly valued.
And herein Christ infinitely excels the oldest friend we have. Hear what He says of Himself, "When he appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men." Here was unselfish and unparalleled friendship!
Under the Old Testament we see Him frequently appearing as the "Angel of the Lord," and the "Angel of the Covenant" — with messages of love to His people. But nothing can express it so emphatically as His own word. "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them. In His love and in His pity, He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old." Isaiah 63:9
If a perfect stranger were to come to us in our distress, and offer to relieve us, we would hardly know how to trust him. "How do I know who or what he is? Perhaps he only mocks my woe. If he does as he says, I shall thank him; but I am afraid to believe it until I see it."
Now, with respect to Christ, this objection is removed. He is no stranger — He is one that we have been long acquainted with — He has been a friend to the family as far back as we can remember, and further too. "We have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us," how kind He was to them; and we have had a thousand proofs of His kindness to us. And shall I distrust Him now? No! Though my present trial is very heavy, and such as I never experienced before — I can trust Him. "I remember the days of old, the years of the right hand of the Most High," and have not the least doubt that He who has been my father's friend, and my own friend for so many years — will continue to be a friend to me, as often and as long as I shall need Him.
Jesus Christ is an affectionate friend. We often meet with people who make great professions of kindness and respect; nothing but "my dear friend," at every word; and "how glad they would be to serve us." While at the same time we have reason to think they have not merely no real regard — but an actual dislike, and would, underhand, rather do us an unkindness!
But Jesus is not one of these. Never was deceit found in His mouth. Whenever He makes professions of love — His heart and hand go along with them. Try Him in those things which are the usual expressions of regard between one friend and another — and you will see how in all things Christ has the pre-eminence.
For example — hearty friends mutually sympathize with one another, and take part in one another's joys and griefs. Christ does so, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need!" Hebrews 4:15-16
Hearty friends love one another's company — and take every opportunity of being together; and when obliged to separate — they contrive to meet again as soon as possible. Christ does just so. He "walks among the golden candlesticks," and "loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob."
Hearty friends seek one another's interest. Do a kindness to one — and the other esteems it as done to himself. Do an injury to one — and the other resents it as done to himself. Christ felt the rage of Saul against the Church, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Hearty friends freely unbosom themselves to one another. And they are mindful of one another, though absent. In all these, and many other ways, Jesus shows Himself a most tender and affectionate friend.
Jesus Christ is a faithful friend. There are some who would be thought very good friends — as they do nothing but flatter us, and commend everything we say and do — though it is never so wrong; and humor us in all our follies and vices. But there is no friendship in all of this. It is sometimes very hard to act the faithful part, on the one side — or to bear a faithful part on the other.
But Christ is a faithful friend. "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten."
Jesus Christ is a powerful friend. We may have many sincere friends — and yet be never the better for them. They may wish us well — but that may be all they can do. They may be poor and feeble, and need help themselves. But if we have a friend as rich as he is kind — then we think ourselves well off — and if ever we come to be in straits, we know where to go for a supply.
And who is so rich as Christ? He is appointed heir of all things. "It has pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell."
He is a constant friend. "Having loved his own who were in the world — he loved them to the end!" This is not always the case with human friendships. Sometimes a trifle shall dissolve them. Those who have been hearty friends for years may become bitter enemies to one another.
But where Christ once fixes His love — He never takes it away! His affection does not change with our condition. He never looks shy upon us because we are poor and in distress.
Christ's friendship not only extends itself through all the changes of life — but also through death and eternity. Earthly friends, let them stick never so close — must part at death. If they accompany us to the brink of the grave, there they take their leave, and bid us a long farewell. But Christ is a friend who will stick closest — when all earthly comforts drop off!
If we have such a friend as Jesus — let us show ourselves grateful and affectionate towards Him. He sympathizes with us in all our griefs and joys. Do we so with Him? Do we prefer Him above our chief earthly joy?
"I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine!" Song of Songs 6:3
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3
"Whom have I in Heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26
"Unto you therefore who believe — He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7