Summary: Jesus offered His life so that we may become become our friends. And Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another as Jesus loved them, if they want to become Jesus' friends.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I live in Stanton, about 4 miles away from here. About 5 years ago during the Christmas season, a young man in his 30’s who lived on the upper floor of the next condo from where I live, committed suicide. It took 10 days before he was discovered dead as his roommate was coming back home from a long vacation. Why did he commit suicide? Even today after 5 years or so, I don’t know the exact reason why he killed himself. But one thing I do know for sure is that he didn’t have a friend. No one cared enough about him to call or visit him while he had been dead for such a long time. He had neighbors including myself, but no one was interested enough about him to get to know and care for him.
Another story, My father passed away 7 years ago after having been hospitalized in several nursing homes for almost 30 years. All these years he had been in constant pain. And whenever I visited him, I so often felt depressed watching him in pain. Then, one day I asked him what was the hardest thing to bear in the nursing home. Do you know his answer? He didn’t say it was pain, rather he said it was loneliness. But thing is he was always with one or two other patients in the room and he was surrounded by many caretakers, some of whom were nice and friendly. Yet, even good, nice and friendly caretakers couldn’t help my father’s loneliness. Why was it?
No doubt it is always good to have a friendly people around, but let me remind you of what Pastor Rick warren said. He said what people really need is not friendly people but friend. I for one would rather have one sincere friend than 100 friendly people around me. I assume you feel the same. In fact this is why Jesus came. He came to become my friend. He came to become your friend.
The scripture verses we just read talk about what happened in Jesus’ final moments just before he died on the cross. He had spent 3 years with the disciples and now He already had the last supper with His disciples and it was about the time to be arrested and to die on the cross and Jesus said to His disciples: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” When He said, “someone lay down his life for his friends”, he was referring to Himself. He was going to lay down His own life for His disciples, whom He called His friends.
It wasn’t because they deserved such sacrifice. They were sinners just like you and I. Do you remember what they did? After the last supper, while Jesus was so troubled in His heart ahead of He death, they were arguing “among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.” (Luke 22:24)
After having been under Jesus’ example and teaching and training for 3 years or so, they still cared more about their being leader and reputation than the friendship among themselves. How about you and? As followers of Christ perhaps for many years, do you and I care our friendship with other brothers more than our own status and reputation? The obvious answer is more likely “No”.
If we are lonely and if we don’t have real friends, let’s not blame others; instead let’s blame ourselves because it was us who care more about our things, our need, and our reputation than our relationship with other brother and sisters. We may be nice and friendly but we are not ready to go all the way for others that we may become their friends because we always have our own things to take care of and we as the master of our lives have our own plans and ways to follow as of primary importance.
In fact that's exactly what sin is all about and why Jesus had to die. 700 years earlier before Jesus’ death, a prophet named Isaiah prophesied why Jesus had to die, saying, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Sin is like sheep which strays away, following his own way. But, the Bible says, “Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds we have been healed. 25 For we were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.(1 Peter 2:24-25) We were straying as we followed our own way, but now we have returned to Jesus, the Shepherd and Overseer of our soul.