“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends…” (John 15:13-14a)
We are at the Last Supper. The disciples know things are about to crash. There’s great tension and fear in the air. Everything Jesus says captures their most intense focus. They are worried for Jesus and for themselves. If He’s captured, who will take care of them? If He’s killed, will they be next? During this time Jesus says some very profound and some simple things.
An example of keeping the profound and the simple in tension is today’s scripture: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
For many years I didn’t like the song that began with these words: “What a friend we have in Jesus…” I thought that calling Jesus our friend diminished him and that such sentiments were undignified. I have repented of being a song-snob.
When Jesus asked Peter and Andrew to follow him, they didn’t think He was the Messiah, or the Son of God, or the Second Person of the Trinity. They thought of Him as a new and exciting friend.
When Jesus chose the rest of the twelve, He was choosing them to be His followers, yes, and He was also choosing them to be His friends. The human Jesus wanted the support and encouragement friends can give.
We, too, need friends. I think it can be harder to make friends the older we get. We have less time. We feel preoccupied with life and work, duties and responsibilities. But we never stop needing friends. Never.
“What a friend we have in Jesus.” I now really like the song. I sing it a lot. I often need to sing it because I get lonely. I need the friendship only Jesus can give.
I encourage you to find and to sing the song. Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and Jesus also wants to be our best friend forever. May we always remember and treasure that there’s no better friend we could ever have.