DISCIPLESHIP: The benefits of being a friend of Jesus.
V4 “I tell you, my friends …”
Disciples who become friends of Jesus are formidable. If there has to be a falling away then friends will be the last to leave the room way after the followers have gone. I am a Manchester United follower but I am not a very good one. I mean, I couldn’t even give 11 names of the team. There are times I just don’t even want to watch them. In years gone by I have actually wanted them to be beaten by a non-league side because I have hated their arrogance. Yet every single day I am treated like a friend. They write an email to me every day, my MU app on my phone sends me updates throughout the day of something that is going on that they want me to know about and every year they send me a pen. How nice they are to me! Every day I feel important to Manchester United!!
I am not wanting to use MU as an illustration of me and Jesus, but I have done.
You see, there are days we are not good disciples and followers of Jesus and yet he calls us his friends. He is committed to us each and every day in our weak following of him. Jesus uses the lesser-greater argument to show us the benefits of that friendship with him. (If the lesser is true then how much more is the greater true?)
- There’s no need to fear people.
V4-5 “… do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Maybe like me today you have something to do that you really don’t want to do. We have to make purposeful decisions not to fear people. We have to decide not to be bullied into silence. The Religious Pharisees and experts of the Law held the ordinary person in a vice of threat. Follow us, do what we say and all will be well for you. Jesus blows them out of the water. Jesus says there is only one to be feared, obeyed and followed directly. God. People have no eternal authority over your life. When we pass from this life we will not be facing that religious bully, we will face God.
- There’s no need to feel worthless.
V6-7 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
God knows how much things cost. He knows the market value of things, even insignificant things. Does God know the value of a budgie? YES. Jesus is saying to his friends that God knows every detail of their life. He has weighed them and has decided they are of great value.
- There’s no need to worry about eternity.
V8-9 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”
I hadn’t heard from this person in a long time and then he called me. “Am I going to hell?” He wasn’t that concerned about the lives he was tearing apart now. But he was very concerned about the consequence of that. My response was “I think it sounds like you are already in hell.” On earth as it is in heaven. What happens here happens there. I’m not the perfect Manchester United supporter but when asked I never say I am a Manchester City supporter, I always own up, even when they laugh or roll their eyes. I am not wanting to use MU as an illustration of me and Jesus, but I have done it again!
As a friend, there’s no need to worry about eternity. It is safe. You will be known in heaven.
- There’s no need to feel condemned
V10 “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
In the most misunderstood verse in the Bible perhaps, Jesus simply tells his friends that their sins will be forgiven unless they purposely continually slander the God they know.
Friends look for forgiveness and friends receive it. Friends are not condemned, not the friends of Jesus.
- There is no need to be powerless.
V11-12 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
So we find ourselves back to point 1. We can stand today before anyone because we never stand alone. The Holy Spirit, the power of God stands with us.
Jesus calls us his friends! Walk in that today! Look at those 5 benefits today and have a great day as a friend of Jesus!