Rev. Daniel Humbert shares his understanding of who Jesus is as a man, focusing on his role as a friend:
I have been tremendously fortunate to have had many close friends throughout my life. They have been there for me and with me through thick and thin, good times and bad. Like all good friends they offered me connection, commitment and companionship. A true friend will never let you down.
My earliest “best” friend was Keith. He and I lived down the street from one another as preschooler’s and elementary school. We did everything together—rode bikes, swam, soccer, school. I always knew I could count on Keith. It was very difficult on both of us when he moved out of state in the 6th grade.
As I transitioned into Jr. High School, I met Kevin. He, like me, played soccer and football and so we hit it off well. We had many classes together. We both played on the same football teams and competed against each other in soccer. We spent many a weekend together and traded stories and life circumstances throughout Jr. and Sr. High School. While we were certainly typical adolescent boys with all the immaturity which that brings, we were dedicated to each other and felt a deep connection with each other. I always knew I could rely on Kevin, and we had many a philosophical conversation about life, relationships and the future. While we are not nearly as close today, we have remained connected.
As I entered seminary after undergraduate school, I met James. James was from a small west Texas town, and he was a year ahead of me in seminary. We became instant friends. We held many things in common: humor, theology, music, age, worldview, and life circumstances. These unifying factors allowed us to face our differences. It has been almost 35 years since we met and we are still best friends even though we live several states from one another.
We connect at least weekly and sometimes more frequently. Over these many years, we have faced family deaths and births; relocation after relocation (a vocational hazard for UMC clergy!); life and faith struggles; denominational hazards; we have traveled many places together; and we have even shared common ministry settings. When we connect each week, we laugh and sometimes cry, we share our heartaches and our triumphs, we counsel one another and lift each other spirits, we hold each other accountable in faith and practice and most of all we offer love to one another. I would literally be lost without this friendship.
Friends are critical to life! Friends help make life worth living and sharing. On so many levels, friendship sustains and strengthens us; it offers hope and help in times of need; and it creates vitality and adventure for the journey of life. In spiritual terms, it’s not too far off to say that friendship saves us—from despair, loneliness and lostness.
I share all this, because one of the most amazing gifts of Jesus Christ is that he is our friend. He is there for us through thick and thin; he is caring in his concern for us; and he couldn’t be any more loyal to us in our relationship with him. Jesus was a true friend to so many. I think of his friendship with Lazarus—whom he raised from the dead. He literally wept over their relationship. I’m reminded of how Jesus offered such care and compassion as a friend to Zacchaeus and the woman caught in adultery; how he was fully present to the woman at the well and how he gave great respect to the woman who washed his feet with her hair. Jesus gave dignity to the man born blind and welcomed Nicodemus into a holy moment of understanding. Jesus even offered an intimate conversation to Judas when he identified Jesus for arrest with a kiss.
Jesus is a true friend. He understands our pains and sorrows. He recognizes our weakness and vulnerabilities. Jesus helps us celebrate the triumphs and laughs with us in our joy. He weeps when we weep and rejoices when we rejoice. Jesus knows us and loves us as we are—warts and all. That’s true friendship!
One of my great joys in life is to know Jesus as friend. Just as I can turn to my buddy James at any time for anything, I know that I can turn to Jesus too. I can rely on him for comfort and strength. He offers me peace in the storms of life and stands with me in the loneliest moments of the night. I have cried out to Jesus when my sister took her own life and when both my parents died. I leapt for joy and thanked Jesus at the birth of both my kids and I have thanked Jesus out loud many times at those “near miss” encounters in my car or on trips.
I can count on Jesus when life has kicked me in the gut and when life has handed me an unexpected blessing. Jesus is a true friend who will never let you down and who will always be there for you. Even when the Church (as in big “C” church) and its adherents disappoint or downright disturb me, Jesus doesn’t. Even when human hypocrisy can horrify me, Jesus is still fully real and present. Because Jesus is such a good friend, I often remind myself that his followers are not the pure presentation of him—he is!
Jesus is my friend. He has never let me down. I hope you can discover his friendship too. I am convinced that when you do, your life will be so much more fulfilling because you found a friend in Jesus.
Check out a message from Pastor Daniel to take an even deeper dive into Jesus as friend.