The resurrection of Jesus is almost a hidden event. Jesus didn’t rise from the dead to prove to those who had crucified him that they had made a mistake or confound his opponents. Nor did he rise to impress the rulers of his time or to force anyone to believe. Jesus’ resurrection was the full affirmation of his Father’s love. Therefore, he only showed himself to those who knew about this love. He made himself known as the risen Lord, only to a handful of his close friends. There is probably no event in human history that has had such importance, while remaining, at the same time, so unspectacular. The world didn’t notice it; only those few to whom Jesus had chosen to show himself, and whom he wanted to send out to announce God’s love to the world; just as he had done.
Friends and friendship are often mentioned in the Bible, which teaches the beauty and value of good and true friends. An old Arab proverb says of friendship: “The beauty of being at peace with another.” Jesus said of friendship (John 15:13) “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” And we know that is precisely what Jesus does, lay His life down for us. I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
The friendship of David and Jonathan is among the best known in all literature. First Samuel tells the story of the friendship between David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the eldest son of Saul, king of Israel. By the time Saul is made King, Jonathan is almost an adult. The king had forbidden any to taste food until the evening. Ignorant of this command and its accompanying curse, Jonathan ate some honey while passing through the forest. Saul would doubtless have fulfilled his vow and have sacrificed Jonathan, but he is popular with the people and they intervened in his behalf (14:16-45). Jonathan is introduced to us when David comes to live in the palace. Their friendship began on the day of David’s return from the victory over Goliath and was confirmed by a solemn covenant, which was ratified by Jonathan’s giving his friend his robe, sword, bow, and belt (1 Sam 18:1-4). Shortly after this he pleaded with his father on behalf of David and secured a reversal of the royal decree against the latter’s life (19:1-7). The friends met by the stone of Ezel and entered into a second covenant, pledging themselves to strive for each other’s safety and David swearing to show kindness to the family of Jonathan when he should be delivered to his enemies. Jonathan was a man of daring who was not afraid to place himself in the greatest danger for the sake of his country. But his most noticeable characteristic was his ardent and unselfish devotion to his friends, which led him to give up his hopes of the throne and even expose himself to death for the sake of those he loved. When Jonathan is killed in battle, David cries and admits his great love for Jonathan and the great loss he feels.
“Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ We understand the dilemma, because we all have had unexpected guest drop in on us. In the middle east, hospitality is very important. To not show hospitality could bring death by stoning or at the very least isolation from the community.
“Then the one inside answers, `Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ The poor Palestinian house consisted of one room with only one little window. The floor was beaten earth covered with dried reeds. About a 1/3 of the room was raised above the rest and on this the family slept around a charcoal fire. Families were large and they slept close together. Palestinian’s would bring the livestock, chickens, goats, etc., into the house at night. For one to rise was inevitably to disturb the whole family.
“In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares about any one else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history…That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts.” That is why the man from inside is comfortable in saying, “Go away.”
I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Remember the hymn, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus?” “…all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
This parable tells us about the friendship God offers us. The parable is not encouraging us to be persistent in prayer. It is not encouraging us to beat on the door until someone answers. But it is telling us that God is a much better friend then those who we think and consider friends. In this parable Jesus placed prayer on the basis of personal friendship with God.
The main business of friendship is to sustain and make bearable each other’s burdens. We may do more of that as friends than we do anything else. Getting through the tough times, offering encouragement when the other desperately needs it, shoring each other up to face the unfairness of existence — the main work of friendship consists of just such homely tasks.” Remember Job’s three friends? Job 2:11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
To be a friend and to have friends is one of the noblest goals for which we can aim. There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved. Friends are angels that lift us to our feet when our wings forget how to fly. Love heals people; it heals the one who gives it, and it heals the one who receives it.
God showed us how to be a friend. Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Too often we change jobs, friends, or spouses instead of changing ourselves. To find a friend simply means being a friend.
“O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”