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Trees often inspire me to grab my camera. From bare branches reaching skyward, to burnished fall colors shouting out God’s glory for the world to see (Psalm 19:1), I am often awe-stuck with their beauty and majesty. Being fascinated by the trees’ bark, I snapped this shot at a Florida roadside park some time ago.

The photo also reminds me of friendship: two friends, side-by-side, facing the world together. I’ve heard it said that a person with two or more close friends should consider himself incredibly blessed. The Bible speaks of a unique friendship that you and I can have with one who knows us more intimately – and accepts us more unconditionally – than any other friend, no matter how dear.

“…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs. 18:24)

This “friend”, intimated in the Old Testament, but clearly revealed in the Gospels and beyond, is none other than Jesus Christ. In his brief three-year public ministry, he invited twelve men to get to know him through day-to-day interaction. And among these twelve disciples, a cursory study of the first four books of the New Testament shows an “inner circle” of Peter, James and John.

Friendship was important to Jesus. And he invites you and me to be part of his list of friends:

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

When the time drew near for Jesus to rejoin his Father in the throne-room of Heaven, he shared this message with his (at-the-time) confused followers:

“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you,
and will even be in you! (John 14:16, The Message)

Jesus was a flesh-and-blood man who got tired and hungry, endured insect bites and enjoyed a beautiful sunset, and felt a range of emotion, from anger to sadness. Surely he relished a back-slapping laugh as well as a hearty hug of a loved-one. However, the physically-present Christ would soon be seen no more by his disciples, and in his place would be the Holy Spirit. In ways past our finite mind to fully comprehend, Jesus had been with them, and now would be in them. Forever.

“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews. 13:5)

We have friends, some who know us fairly-intimately. But none have ever been able to live inside us, to fully feel what we feel, whether it be joy or anguish. Only Jesus, through the Holy Spirit (also called Comforter, Counselor, and Friend, among other names) can fulfill that role. And he did so much more; he was willing to die for us:

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Stories have been told of friends and family who were willing to die for their relative or comrade. Jesus, however, exceeded this. He willingly gave his life for his enemies, as we all are before coming to him.

Consider what the friendship of Jesus means to you, and offer thanks to him. And if you haven’t already claimed him as friend – and as Lord – would you do so today?

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

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Filed under Friends, Holy Spirit, Jesus

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