Sunday, March 11, 2007

Jesus Loved Friends

Jesus Loved Friends

Intro.: A poet once wrote

  1. I went out to find a friend,
    But could not find one there,
    I went out to be a friend,
    And friends were everywhere! 1

  1. Perhaps a more familiar poem are the words of that wonderful poem "What A Friend We Have In Jesus:"

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry
Ev’rything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Ev’rything to God in prayer.

  1. I wonder what it would be like to be Jesus' friend. Let's look at a passage that gives us a glimpse of Jesus interacting with His friends.

Read: John 11:1-44


Trans: The gospel of John contains seven major miracles.

  1. The passage that we are looking at this morning is the last of those seven.

  2. You will remember that it was Mary that poured perfume on Jesus' feet.

  3. And it was Martha who was irritated when Mary sat at Jesus feet and listen to his teaching when Martha was working at the kitchen

  4. This is the third time that we encounter this family in scripture.

T.S. I want to look at three principles that help us to understand the role of friendships among Christians.

  1. A friend is willing to get involved in another's life.

    1. It was a close family – Mary, Marth, and Lazarus. And, just as when we hear that someone is ill in our family, they were worried. In fact, it would appear that they are at their wit's end.

(Ill.) It is amazing how we can look at similar situations and have totally different opinions. Thomas Edison was born 110 years ago this year. When Thomas Edison was a young man in school in Ohio, his teacher said he’d never amount to anything because, seemingly, he could learn only science and mathematics. She said he was "addled." He couldn’t pass his other subjects because he wasn’t interested in them. The poor fellow nearly despaired when his teacher, at wit’s end, recommended his expulsion. He knew he was slow in English and history, but he was sure he was going to amount to something in spite of it. This young man, as everybody now knows, was a genius, an electrical wizard, a pioneer inventor who helped make America’s standard of living what it is today.2

    1. So when Mary and Martha were confused by their brother's they went to their friend – Jesus.

    2. And now the story gets interesting – Lazarus' sisters saw a man who was sick and who was near death. Jesus saw no such thing – it saw an event that was "for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it."

(Appl.) Most of us, myself included, are like Martha and Mary. We see problems as obstacles. But Jesus looks at those same problems and sees opportunities. God wants to be involved in our lives – but he will never force himself into our lives. We need to let him in. When we face the obstacles of life, it only makes sense to turn those obstacles into opportunities to see God at work.

  1. A friend is obeys God first, then is of service to others

    1. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus – they were true friends, not counted among the twelve apostles, but followers none the less.

    2. In some ways they were more like us than the apostles. The apostles were twelve men who were called to follow Jesus in some special way. But these three were regular women and their brother who understood that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

    3. And Jesus loved them. He cried when he arrived at the tomb. He would miss his friend.

    4. And though Jesus loved them, he still waits two days before traveling to Bethany. At the end of two days, Jesus calls His disciples to follow him to Judea.

(Appl.) There sometimes to be this unwritten rule – when a friend says "help", we have to give exactly what he or she wants. But Jesus doesn't do this. Jesus does not rush to his friend's side. He doesn't run to be with Lazarus' sisters. Instead, Jesus waits two days. You Jesus is practicing a principle we all need to learn – He had to be obedient to God first. Sometimes that means that we do what our friends want, but sometimes it does not. It does mean that we are always obedient to Jesus.

    1. As they begin to leave, Jesus makes a very remarkable statement: Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.

    2. Its another one of those those times that Jesus sees things one way and everyone else sees it differently. Jesus sees a sleeping friend, but everyone knows that he is dead – the apostles miss the distinction, so Jesus has to explain it to them: Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.

  1. Friendships are used by God to accomplish great things

    1. I was really amazed when I read the next verse. Look at verse 16: Thomas has a bad reputation – the first word that comes to mind when I think of Thomas is doubt. Remember he was the one who could not accept Jesus' resurrection until after he touched the wounds. But at this point he takes the lead - "Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'"

    2. But it was going to be amazing day. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha realized that Jesus could still take care of the situation. Well almost – because when Jesus says that her brother will be okay, she still does not understand. Jesus replys with one of the great "I AM"s found in John's gospel: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

(Ill.) Most of us know the works of Charles Dickens. Such books as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield. Most of us do not know that Charles Dickens was a believer that lived in some the cruelest and darkest times in England's history. Orphans and the poor were virtual slaves to the wealthy. It is said the Dicken's writing so touched the conscience of England, that nation changed direction. Healing started. In Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities, a young French aristocrat was condemned to die by the guillotine during the bloody French Revolution. His punishment was based solely on his forefathers’ crimes against the peasantry. The hour before his execution he was visited by a young English friend who could have passed for his twin. After the guard had left, the friend overpowered the doomed man with an anesthetic and exchanged clothes with him. Then, pretending to be the one condemned to die, he called the jailor and asked that his unconscious “visitor,” supposedly overcome with grief, be removed and returned to his home. The nobleman was thus saved from death.

On his way to the guillotine, the young Englishman spoke these final words: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. . . .” And he comforted himself with these words: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).3

    1. I think if I were writing this part of John's gospel, I would have ended halfway through verse 44 – "...Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out.' The dead man came out."

    2. John did not – the end of this pericope is almost an anticlimax – Jesus tells them to take off the grave clothes. "Duh" But it reminds us that Jesus does work in the lives of real people. He does marvelous things in the lives of those who put their faith in Him.

(Appl.) He wants to do marvelous things in your life as well.



1Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

3Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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