Who calls you “friend”? Does your boss? Your doctor? Your pastor? Your mechanic? Do they name you among their friends? Do you call them your friends? If so, you are rich in rare and special treasures.
Early in the evening of the night he was betrayed, Jesus said to his disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus calls his disciples “friends.” I am so accustomed to reading over this that I forget how startling it is.
Friendship with Jesus is like no other friendship. My friends are mortal; Jesus is immortal. My friends have limits; Jesus is omni-everything. For example, there is no way to throw a surprise party for someone who is omniscient. My friends only know so much about me; Jesus has the full unedited version of my life. My friendship with Jesus will never be equal; he always does the heavy lifting.
Yet, I have the amazing opportunity to be-friend Jesus. The types of things that nurture other relationships also strengthen friendship with Jesus.
Loving Beyond the Languages
You may have heard the list of five love languages: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Personally, I think this list is only the start. It is also loving to include others in your plans, to speak well of them, and to show interest in them. This last one is a personal favorite. What a gift it is for a friend to be courteously curious about us, to actively seek to know us better and to understand us.
What happens when we are curious about Jesus? I have been asking others, “What do you wish you could know about Jesus?”
- A mother of four wishes she could know what Jesus was like as a child.
- A nurse practitioner wonders if Jesus experienced a reciprocal blessing when he healed others.
- A chaplain wants to know how Jesus bears our burdens, messes, pain, tears, disappointments, and sufferings, and is not overcome by these things himself… How his love, compassion, and concern never run dry.
- A missional nurse wants to know about Jesus’ simple everyday conversations and how he talked with his family and friends.
- A woman who studies the life of Jesus wants to know what he did during his forty-day fast in the wilderness.
Students want to know what was his favorite food? Was he a cat person or a dog person? How was his relationship with Joseph, his earthly father? How does he feel about pain, brokenness, need, and anxiety in us and our world? How was it for Jesus to treat Judas the same as the others while knowing Judas would betray him? What did Jesus write in the sand when he forgave the adulterous woman? For whom would Jesus vote? Did he struggle to memorize scripture? What was he doing between the crucifixion and the resurrection?
Those around him wanted to know about him as well:
- “Rabbi, where are you staying?” – John 1:38
- “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” – Matthew 11:3
- “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” – Matthew 21:23
- “Why do you speak to them in parables?” – Matthew 13:10
I wish I could know what it was like for Jesus, knowing what was to come, to pass by others who were being crucified.
Stirring Your Affections
I do not expect to know the answers to these questions any time soon. And I doubt these will be the things on my mind when I see Jesus face to face. The point of these questions is not getting answers but deepening our relationship with Jesus. Musings and conversations like these stir my affection for him. I pay attention to Jesus. I see him through the eyes and hear him through the words of others. I read the Gospels, looking for him to surprise me. He is magnified in my thoughts.
Knowing Jesus matters. It is the most important and enduring thing we can do this side of heaven: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Questions like this may lead to knowing Jesus better. What a treasure.
C.S. Lewis wrote to a little girl about a month before his death: “If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so.” Notice what increases your love for Jesus — and do it.
For me, I express love by asking questions. So I ask, “What do you wish you could know about Jesus?”UMHB Spiritual Life provides relationships, communities, ministries, and events that communicate and cultivate Christ likeness through service and leadership on and beyond the UMHB campus. For more information and opportunities to serve, we invite you to visit our website.