Our Greatest Friend
“Now during those days, He went out to the mountain to pray; and He spent the night in prayer to God. And when the day came, He called His disciples and chose twelve of them, whom He also named apostles.” - Luke 6:12-13
Jesus models prayer for us in many places, but I think this is prayer on the mountaintop was of the most heart-warming: Jesus prayed for His friends. Jesus understood what a great and weighty choice it is when the time comes to choose our friends.
The Gospel writers remind us many times that Jesus had “grown in favor with men” at the time of this prayer, and so this leads me to believe that Jesus could have chosen many people to be His friends. Jesus, however, chose only twelve. Jesus perhaps valued, as we should, quality over quantity when it comes to our friends. Our friends should be the people who consistently point our lives in the direction of Christ, even (and perhaps especially) when the path grows dark and we ourselves cannot see Him.
But this precious gift of friendship worked both ways. Every teenager has been told that he or she will eventually become like those whose company they keep, and what great news that was for the disciples! They would become like Christ because it was He with Whom they kept company. This, too, will become true of our lives. We can only become more like Christ by keeping His company. We cannot emulate someone we do not know.
Our friends should be the people who consistently point our lives in the direction of Christ.
This portrait of friendship, however, would not be complete without looking to the end of verse 16: [and He also chose] “Judas Iscariot, who would betray Him.” Jesus, in His infinite knowledge and foresight, also chose a man whom He knew would later betray Him, as evidenced by His words to Judas in John 13:27, “Do quickly what you came to do.”
We, too, can be betrayed by those we once called friend, but we must take yet another lesson from the great friend we have in Jesus. Though Judas’s betrayal of Jesus would lead the Messiah to His death, it, too, would give way to glory on the morning of the resurrection. We, too, must view the possible loss of friends in this way: as an instrument to a greater story for our Master to write.
May we never forget that our truest friend is found in the person of Christ Jesus, from Whom we never worry of betrayal and from Whom we learn our greatest lessons.
Discussion Question: How do your friends help orient your life toward Christ?