The Friendship of Christ
We wonder how many of our readers have ever heard a sermon or read an article on this precious subject. We wonder how many of His people are accustomed to think of Christ in this blessed relationship. If the answer be, "Few," that is indeed pathetic and tragic! Christ is the best Friend that the Christian has, and it is both his unspeakable privilege and bounden duty—to regard Him as such and to treat Him accordingly.
Our Scriptural support for those statements is found in the following passages, among others. "There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). That can refer to none other than the Lord Jesus, the Lover of our souls. "This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem" (Song 5:16). That is the language of His Spouse, the testimony of the Church, avowing this most intimate and blissful relationship.
Add to these the witness of the New Testament when in the days of His flesh, Christ was termed "a friend of publicans and sinners!" (Luke 7:34), and our warrant is clearly established.
There are many and varied relations in which Christ stands to a believer, and he is greatly the loser if He be ignored in any of them.
Christ is the God, Lord, Head, Savior of the Church.
Officially—He is our Prophet, Priest, and King.
Personally—He is our Kinsman-Redeemer, our Intercessor, our "Friend." That title expresses the close union there is between the Lord Jesus and believers: They are as if but one soul actuated them—indeed, one and the same spirit does, for "he who is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17). "Christ stands in a nearer relation than a brother to the Church: He is her Husband, her Bosom-friend" (John Gill, 1697-1771). "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Ephesians 5:30).
But even those relations fall short of fully expressing the nearness, spiritual oneness, and indissolubleness of the union which exists between Christ and His people. There should—then, be the freest approaches unto Him and the most intimate fellowship with Him. To deny Christ, that is to ignore the fact that He is our best "Friend."
"There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). That endearing title not only expresses the close relation there is between Him and His redeemed—but the affection which He ever bears them. Nothing has, does, or can, dampen—much less quench—the outflow of His love for His friends! "Having loved his own who were in the world—He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). That blessed title of Christ's tells of the sympathy He bears to His people in all their sufferings and sorrows, their temptations and infirmities.
"In all their affliction he was afflicted. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old" (Isaiah 63:9), what demonstrations of His friendship are those! That blessed title also tells of His deep concern in our cause and interests. He has our highest welfare at heart, and accordingly, He has promised, "I will not turn away from them, to do them good" (Jeremiah 32:40).
Let us consider more definitely the EXCELLENCIES of our best Friend.
Christ is an ancient Friend. Old friends are prized most highly. The Lord Jesus was our Friend—when we were His enemies! We fell in Adam—but He ceased not to love us; nay, He became the last Adam to redeem us and laid down "his life for his friends!" (John 15:13). He sent His servants to preach the Gospel unto us—but we despised it. Even when we were wandering in the ways of folly, He determined to save us, and watched over us. In the midst of our sinning and sporting with death and damnation, He arrested us by His grace; and by His love and power, overcame our enmity and won our hearts unto Himself!
Christ is a constant Friend, One who "loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17). He continues to be our Friend through all the vicissitudes of life. He is no "fair-weather friend", who fails us when we most need him. He is our Friend in the day of adversity, equally as much as in the day of prosperity. Was He not so to poor Peter! He is "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1), and evidences it by His supporting and sustaining grace. Nor do our iniquities and transgressions turn away His compassion from us! Even then He acts the part of a friend toward us, "if any man sins—we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).
Christ is a faithful Friend. His grace is not shown at the expense of righteousness; nor do His mercies ignore the requirements of holiness. Christ ever has in view both the glory of God and the highest good of His people. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6). A real friend loyally performs his duty in pointing out to me my faults. In this respect, too, does Christ "show himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24). Often has He occasion to say unto each of us, "I have a few things against you" (Revelation 2:14); and then it is by that, He rebukes by His Word, convicts our conscience by His Spirit, and chastens us by His providences: "That we might be partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10).
Christ is a powerful Friend. He is not only willing—but able to help us! Some of our earthly friends have the desire to assist us in the hour of need—but lack the necessary ability. Not so with our heavenly Friend! Not only has He the heart to assist us—but also the power. He is the Possessor of "unsearchable riches" and all that He has—is at our disposal: "The glory which you gave me I have given them" (John 17:22). We have a Friend at Court, for Christ uses His meritorious influence with the Father on our behalf: "He ever lives to make intercession" for us (Hebrews 7:25). No situation can possibly arise with us, which would be beyond the resources of Christ.
Christ is an everlasting Friend. He does not desert us in the hour of our supreme crisis: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil—for you are with me" (Psalm 23:4). Nor does death itself sever us from this Friend who "sticks closer than a brother"—for so far from calling upon us to sojourn in a popish purgatory, we are with Him that very day in Paradise. Death will have separated us from those on earth—but "absent from the body" we shall be "present with the Lord" in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8).
And in the future Day of judgment, Christ will manifest Himself as our Friend, saying, "Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matthew 25:21, 23).