My favorite thing about Jesus is that He wants to be our friend. This is why it was important to get some of that religious haze out of the way. Religion would have us put Jesus on a pedestal so high that there would be no way for us to ever reach Him. He has always had different plans, however. From the get go, He came to earth to be with us! If Jesus didn’t want an actual relationship with us, why would He have come down and spent all of those years here, only to have them end in His earthly death?
I’m a fisherman, albeit not a great one. I’ve been out on my kayak fishing lakes, ponds and rivers and almost every single time, there has been somebody asking me how my fishing was going. I’ve definitely had my days where there was absolutely no action and not even a nibble, so those days I could get annoyed when someone asked “Catch anything?”
Perhaps my absolute favorite story of Jesus is after His resurrection in John chapter 21. A few of His friends, thinking that the adventure they had been on for the last several years was now over, returned to their trade, fishing. They were out all night and got completely skunked, no fish in the boat after a long night of hard work tossing and retrieving nets. They probably felt as defeated as I do when I’m heading back to shore with not a single catch on the day, only it’s not a hobby for them, it’s their livelyhood.
As they head back in, there’s a stranger on the beach that asks “Catch anything?” They respond with heads down and resignation in their voices “Not a thing.” The stranger says something along the lines of “I think I see some fish on that side of the boat, try over there.” With nothing to lose, they oblige. And then BAM! So many fish fill their net that the boat begins to list and sink! Peter instantly recognizes the stranger. He has seen this exact scenario play out before, the first time that he met Jesus!
Peter jumps into the water and hurries to get to the shore to give Jesus the biggest hug that he has given anybody. They get a fire going and the rest of the crew drags in the catch. It wasn’t just a bunch of fish, it was 153 as John makes it a point to share that number. From not a single one to so many more than they would know what to do with. They sit and have breakfast by the fire while they count and sort their catch and spend time with Jesus.
Jesus comes to them, unexpectedly, as a friend would. Not as the Risen Savior seated at the right hand of God, but as a friend who had spent years making memories with them. He came back to have breakfast and joke and listen to stories. He knew that they didn’t have any fish, and I could imagine Him chuckling to Himself as he had asked if they had any luck, knowing that they certainly didn’t. Would they tell a fib like most fisherman, or be honest about having nothing to show for their hours of labor? Would they recognize Him when He spoke, or would they think that He was just some smarty pants walking the beach, giving them grief for their failure?
Jesus came back to His friends.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:12-15) emphasis added.
Jesus calls us His friends. We aren’t His servants. We aren’t His subjects. We are His friends. That’s pretty deep. Right in scripture, Jesus tells us that we have a relationship with Him. He lets us know that He wants a relationship with us. Friendship isn’t just a one way thing, it takes more than one person to make a relationship work. He is there if we just open our eyes and see Him. His arms are opened wide, ready to embrace us as the truest friend that any of us will ever know. He is there to hold us when we are weak and crying. He is there to applaud us when we work hard and succeed. He is there when we’re bored, sitting on the couch trying to figure out what show to binge watch on a streaming service.
Jesus is the best kind of friend. He is NEVER too busy for us. He’s NEVER at work when we need to have Him come over because we are crying uncontrollably. He doesn’t have to check His schedule to see when He can squeeze us in. Jesus is ALWAYS there for us and with us.
I really believe that this is the absolute most important characteristic of Jesus. In order to have a deep relationship with our Savior, we have to understand that He truly desires to have a deep relationship with us. It’s so easy to believe that we aren’t good enough, we have too much sin in our lives, we are failures that Jesus would be ashamed of, etc. But the reality is, Jesus doesn’t care about any of that. Jesus only wants us to come to Him. He knows that we are broken. He knows that there is evil (sin) in our hearts. He knows that we are going to turn away from Him, and probably when we need Him and His love the most. But he still calls out to us and makes Himself completely available to us. All we need to do, is just let Him be with us.
It’s easy to turn away from your friends. Especially during a hard time or when depression sets in and kicks your butt. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t really have much in the way of friends. I’ve had some throughout the years, but I haven’t really maintained any close relationships. I just kind of drift away. I keep tabs on people that I was close to and we exchange some pleasantries on social media or through text messages from time to time, but I’m not really close to any of them any more. Currently, I have a few people in my life that I would call friends and that I know have my back if I ever need them, but would I really allow myself to be as vulnerable with them as I need to be? Probably not.
With Jesus, He already knows everything about me. He knows my sins, failures, and insecurities. He knows when I’ve completely stepped off of the path and started wandering around aimlessly. He knows each time that I have denied Him in some way. He also knows that I love Him. He knows that I am fighting to make myself be completely open and vulnerable to Him. He knows that I have fought some serious battles, and I have been leaning on Him more and more through my struggles and have really opened my heart to Him more each and every time. Jesus knows all of the things about me that I try to hide from the world and He knows which of the things that I try to let the world see that are just fluff and ego. He also knows the good that is in my heart, even when it’s buried deep.
Jesus still calls me to a close friendship, even though there have been many times in my life where even I may have been ashamed to know me. He doesn’t care. He wants to be close so that He can help change my heart and direct it to be in line with God and His calling for myself.
Jesus doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of you. He knows that you are a child of God and if you allow Him into your heart and follow Him, you are His friend. He’s like that popular guy in high school that didn’t hang out with just the jocks or just the nerds. He hung out with everybody and made each person feel special. That’s Jesus, but on a much deeper and more powerful level. How amazing is it that God Himself wants to be our friend?! The creator of the universe wants us to be close to Him and be able to call on Him whenever we need. To be able to sit down and have a sup of coffee or slice of pizza. To walk the beach and have a deep conversation. To be able to pour out our deepest, darkest and most painful parts of ourselves in private.
He offers Himself to everyone who wants to be His friend. He has already saved you, why not let Him walk with you through life and be your guide on your journey through faith?