The Depth of His Friendship
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)
How do you show how much you love someone? TV advertisements tell us that it is by giving your beloved their favorite – or last – chocolate, or by buying your family that new car, or by taking them to this "must-have" holiday destination. So many things are seen as the ultimate expression of love or friendship. But for the Son of God, showing how very much He loved us was nothing so trivial!
Jesus said that the ultimate expression of love was to "lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). And, of course, that is exactly what He would do for them, only hours later. We can perhaps understand how a true friend might be prepared to sacrifice his life for someone he really loved; or how a parent would gladly risk their own life to save that of their child who had wandered in front of a car. But the Bible says Jesus did far more that. For the great wonder is that our heavenly Friend died on the cross, not for his friends, but for his enemies!
The New Testament constantly stresses that it was "while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:8), while we were "alienated from God" (Colossians 1:21), that Christ died for us. He didn’t wait for us to become His friends before He acted; He acted so that we could become His friends! The apostle Paul discovered this truth and was transformed by it. As a Pharisee, he had dedicated himself to the eradication of the church, helping in the stoning of Stephen and going from house to house to find Christians and to drag them off to jail. And yet, this self-sworn enemy of Christ was transformed that day he met Him and found his life turned around – not when he had become His friend, but while he was still a sinner.
Today, we do not have to try to win Christ’s friendship; we already have it! He showed it to us while we were still sinners; how much more will He show us that friendship, just as He promised, now that He has made us His friends.
While we were God’s enemies, he made friends with us through the death of his Son. (Romans 5:10, NCV)
© Copyright 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont