Intro: According to Webster's, "friend" means "a favored companion." God be praised for our real friends! “What is a friend?” was once posed to Aristotle. "A single soul dwelling in two bodies," was his response. Throughout my journey through life, I am grateful to the friends I have made. My life has been blessed by the Lord because I have had the pleasure of being friends with some very special people. This morning, many of them are seated in this very room!
But there is a friend who is more special to me than anyone else I've ever met. I do not refer to Him as my friend; rather, He refers to me as His. His name is Jesus. Consider that for a moment. I would be elevated to his level if the President referred to me as a friend. However, if I make the mistake of thinking of him as a friend, I have not raised him in any way; rather, I have somewhat lowered him. Singing "What a Friend I have in Jesus" is one thing. When Jesus says that He has a friend in me, it's quite another thing! The two are vastly different from one another! I can identify several places in my Bible where God and Jesus referred to specific individuals as their friends. In the Old Testament, for instance, God spoke to Moses like a man would to a friend (Ex. 33:11. 2 Chronicles refers to Abraham as God's friend. 20:7, James 2:23. The Israelites who remained faithful to Abraham are known as the friends of God, Isa. 41:8. In John 11:11, Jesus refers to a man by the name of Lazarus as a friend in the New Testament. The disciples are referred to as Christ's friends in our text. Even more remarkable is the fact that one of Jesus' adversaries alleged that He was a "friend of publicans and sinners," Matt. 11:19. However, even this makes sense in light of Matt. 26:50. In that verse, the Lord refers to Judas as a "friend" while he is leading an army to arrest Jesus. I want to talk about Jesus, the Sinner's Friend, this morning. These verses, in my opinion, demonstrate some of the obvious signs of His friendship with you and me. As we consider the topic, let's take a look at the following methods by which we can recognize that Jesus is our friend: The Friend of the Sinner I. v. 13 HIS SACRIFICE SHOWS HIS FRIENDSHIP A. It Was Voluntary – The phrase "Lay down his life" indicates that the act was voluntary. Jesus was not “murdered” or taken from Him against His will. On the cross, He voluntarily gave up His life. This is made abundantly clear by a number of statements that He made both in life and in death: John 10:18; John 18:37; Matt 27:50. B. It Was Vicarious: "performed or suffered by one as a substitute for another or to the benefit or advantage of another" is the definition of the word "vicarious." In this verse, Jesus tells us that He was giving up His life "for his friends." To put it another way, His death was not for Him but for others. This is made abundantly clear in Isaiah 53:4-6. Jesus was acting on behalf of others when He went to the cross. He referred to those individuals as His friends. 1 Peter and other verses also speak to his truth. 2:24; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2. Friends, Jesus gave his life for you so that you wouldn't have to spend eternity in Hell. C. It Was Harmful – On the surface, the phrase "lay down his life" sounds clean. It does not even come close to conveying the extent of Jesus' suffering when He gave His life for us. It is only after looking at a few verses from the Bible that it becomes clear that He paid a very high price for us. 1. Matt was betrayed by Judas and abandoned by the disciples. 26:47-56 2. Beaten by the guards of the Temple - Luke 22:63-64 3. rejection from Matt, the very people He came to save. 27:17-25; John 1:11 4. Matt was scourged. 27:26 (Psa. - Illinois Furrows) 129:3) 5. Matt was stomped on by the soldiers and crowned with thorns. 27:26-29 6. Isa removed His beard from His face. 50:6 7. Matt is naked and stripped. 27:35 8. Matt. was crucified, nailed to a cross, and hung to die. 27:35 9. Isa was completely and beyond belief damaged. 50:14 His death acquires new significance and glory when viewed from this perspective! John 15:13 says that he did all of this for you! D. It Was Winning – There are people who think, "What a tragedy!" when they see Jesus die on the cross. However, His passing was not tragic! One of the most glorious days in world history was when he died! According to John 19:30, Jesus cried out when He was getting close to the end of His time on the cross, proclaiming that His death was a time of great victory. He was aware that when He died, He fulfilled God's righteous requirements for an atoning sacrifice for sin; Isa. 53:10-12. Jesus' resurrection from the dead three days later demonstrated that God was content forever, Matt. 28:1-6. Now, sin could be forgiven, and those who were redeemed would live forever! His sacrifice reveals His friendship clearly! But there are other signs of his friendship as well. II. Verse 14 and 15: "His friendship is seen in his sharing" These two verses inform us that Jesus, as our friend, gives us some unique gifts. A. He Shares His Love: Jesus shows us how much he cares about us! The Bible is full of this truth throughout its pages! Jer, it is said that his love is "everlasting." 31:3. The cross, Rom, is said to be the result of his love. 5:8. Rom says that those who are in his love will never be able to separate from it. 8:38-39. According to 1 John 4:8, love is the very essence of the divine nature. Knowing that God loves you is unlike anything else in the world! Naturally, Pro, this is comparable to a genuine friend. 17:17. B. He Shares His Life These verses inform us that Jesus not only gave up His life for us on the cross but also IMPARTS His life to us day by day. This is evident in the significant transformation He brings about in every life He touches, 2 Cor. 5:17. He takes us with all of our fleshly desires and sins, saves us through His grace, and gives us a desire to live for Him! Col. says that a sinner who has been redeemed literally becomes a vessel in which Jesus Christ lives. 3:3; Gal. 2:20. He alters every life He touches! The Gospels show this numerous times. People's lives were forever altered when Jesus passed by! (Blindness, leprosy, deafness, demoniacs, lameness, illness, and death were all miraculously, perfectly, and permanently altered by His touch!) C. He teaches His disciples: Jesus explains to His followers that He has decided to treat them like friends. He will teach them everything they need to know about the Father, not hide the truth from them. Another advantage of having Jesus as a friend is this. John 14:9 says that he is God's revelation; John 1:18. He imparts the truth to us regarding God, His work, and His word. Naturally, John 16:13 says that He accomplishes this through the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We learn about God from him: How to care for Him; How to live in His image; how to revere Him; How to honor Him; How to appreciate Him; how to spend time with Him; how to introduce others to Him. He divulges to us the most intimate details of divine truth. He never hides anything from His friends! It would suffice to mention these two ways that Jesus demonstrates Himself to be our friend. Jesus, on the other hand, shows us His friendship in a different way. III. A. We Are Chosen By Him – If you are saved, or ever are saved, it will be because the Lord chose you in His grace! v. 16 HIS FRIENDSHIP IS SEEN IN HIS SALVATION The sinner, after all, is dead in his sins, Eph. 2:1. Consequently, he cannot approach God through imitation. According to John 6:44, the sinner must be called to come to the Lord for salvation before he can be saved. We refer to this calling as conviction. According to John 16:7–11, it is an inner awareness of one's sins and a certain knowledge that Jesus Christ is the sinner's only hope. According to John 6:37-40, salvation occurs when sinners respond in faith to a call to come to Him. Thank God for a friend like Jesus, who took our place on Calvary and loved us so much that He called us to Himself for salvation despite our sins! That is a true friend to me! B. He Calls Us: As if our salvation wasn't enough, after He saves us, He calls us to serve Him, Eph. 2:10. He accomplishes this by bestowing upon each of us a unique position in the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12. After our salvation, His plan is to use us for His own glory in the world. He wants us to actively participate in His work. According to John 15:5, He has promised those who will serve Him that they will enjoy His power and success. He has promised that we will be used to complete tasks that will last forever. That is a genuine friend who not only knows us as well as Jesus does, but also makes the decision to stay in close contact with us and, more importantly, to use us to serve God's glory. C. He Reassures Us: He tells us that our relationship is even better because He promises that we will also have a close relationship with His Father. We are taken to a place where we will receive answers to our prayers, according to Jesus, who tells us that our friendship brings us there. As we travel through this world, this provides us with great comfort! We are reconciled to the Father as a result of our relationship with Jesus; consequently, we are invited to present our petitions and requests to Him, Phil. 4:6-7; Heb. 4:16. Matt, the idea is that we can't get around this world without a friend and a helper. 28:20; Heb. 13:5. Conc: Babe Ruth was one of baseball's greatest players. His bat had the power of a cannon, and until Hank Aaron arrived, he held the record for most home runs with 714. Sports fans idolized The Babe, but as time went on, age took its toll, and his popularity began to decline. He was eventually traded to the Braves by the Yankees. Babe Ruth began to falter in one of his final Cincinnati games. The Reds were able to score five runs in one inning thanks to his strikeouts and numerous misplays. A huge outcry of howls and yelps erupted from the stands as the Babe walked down the field toward the dugout with his chin bowed and feeling defeated. Some fans actually fist-shook. Then something amazing happened. A young boy jumped over the railing, and as he ran toward the great athlete, he wept heavily. He wrapped his arms around the Babe's legs and clung to her with all his might. After grabbing him and giving him a hug, Babe Ruth put him back down. He took his hand after gently patting him on the head, and the two of them left the field together. I once resembled Babe Ruth. I had nothing to contribute. Sin used me up and wasted me. But Jesus, a man, jumped over the railing of glory. He came into the world, lived a perfect life, died on Calvary, shed His blood, and rose again. I want it all! The time eventually came when He arrived at my location, took my hand in His, and through His grace, saved me. We are now walking together across this life's field toward the dugout! He doesn't care about me! He doesn't think badly of me! He simply adores me and walks alongside me. I consider that to be a friend! Do you currently know Him? You could! You must respond to His call in order to be saved if He is calling. Will you comply?

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