IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: A FRIEND THAT STICKS CLOSER THAN A BROTHER
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”
According to the Dictionary, the word friend is “a person whom one loves and trusts”. Another definition says a friend is, “a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter”. Brothers and sisters, I like to think that a friend is someone who will go to the ends of the earth and back for and with you just because you asked him too. A friend is someone who will help you when you’re right and has the courage to let you know when you are wrong.
You were made for friendship with God. God does not just want us to know about him; he wants us to know him — and to experience his friendship.
Jesus is our exalted king and he is our truest friend. This doesn’t minimize his glory; it magnifies it — because it displays the immeasurable riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:6–7). Only grace explains the sovereign King welcoming sinners as his friends.
OUR Lord Jesus Christ is beyond all comparison the best of friends: a friend in need, a friend indeed.
There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”—Proverbs 18:24
“Friend!” said Socrates, “there is no friend!” but Socrates did not know our Lord Jesus, or he would have added, “except the Saviour.” In the heart of our Lord Jesus there bums such friendship towards us that all other forms of it are as dim candles to the sun. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.” An ordinary man has gone as far as ever he can when he has died for his friend; and yet he would have died anyhow, so that in dying for his friend he does but pay, somewhat beforehand, a debt which must inevitably have been discharged a little further on. With Christ there was no necessity to die at all, and this, therefore, places his love and his friendship alone by itself. He died who needed not to die, and died in agony when he might have lived in glory: never did man give such proof of friendship as this.
Beloved, it is the highest honour in the world to be called the friend of Christ. There is no title surely that excels in dignity that which was worn by Abraham, who was called “The friend of God.” Lord Brooke was so delighted with the friendship of Sir Philip Sydney that he ordered to be engraved upon his tomb nothing but this, “Here lies the friend of Sir Philip Sydney.” There is beauty in such a feeling, but yet it is a small matter compared with being able to say, “Here lives a friend of Christ.” O wondrous condescension that he should call me “friend.” If I am indeed a true believer, not only is he my friend, without which I could have no hope here or hereafter, but he hath in the aboundings of his grace been pleased to regard me as his friend, and write me down in the honoured list of intimates who are permitted to speak familiarly with him, as those do between whom there are no secrets, for their hearts are told out to him whilst he hides nothing from them, but saith, “If it were not so I would have told you.” Beloved, in what a light this sets obedience to Christ’s commandments.
Cicero has well said, “Friendship is the only thing in the world concerning the usefulness of which all mankind are agreed.” Friendship seems as necessary an element of a comfortable existence in this world as fire or water, or even air itself. A man may drag along a miserable existence in proud solitary dignity, but his life is scarce life, it is nothing but an existence, the tree of life being stripped of the leaves of hope and the fruits of joy. He who would be happy here must have friends; and he who would be happy hereafter, must, above all things, find a friend in the world to come, in the person of God, the Father of his people.
Friendship, however, though very pleasing and exceedingly blessed, has been the cause of the greatest misery to men when it has been unworthy and unfaithful; for just in proportion as a good friend is sweet, a false friend is full of bitterness. “A faithless friend is sharper than an adder’s tooth.” It is sweet to repose in some one; but oh! how bitter to have that support snapped, and to receive a grievous fall as the effect of your confidence. Fidelity is an absolute necessary in a true friend; we cannot rejoice in men unless they will stand faithful to us. Solomon declares that “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” That friend, I suppose, he never found in the pomps and vanities of the world. He had tried them all, but he found them empty; he passed through all their joys, but he found them “vanity of vanities.” Poor Savage spoke from sad experience when he said—
“You’ll find the friendship of the world a show!
Mere outward show! ‘Tis like the harlot’s tears,
The statesman’s promise, or false patriot’s zeal,
Full of fair seeming, but delusion all.”
And so for the most part they are. The world’s friendship is ever brittle. Trust to it, and you have trusted a robber; rely upon it, and you have leaned upon a thorn; ay, worse than that, upon a spear which shall pierce you to the soul with agony. Yet Solomon says he had found “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Not in the haunts of his unbridled pleasures, nor in the wanderings of his unlimited resources, but in the pavilion of the Most High, the secret dwelling-place of God, in the person of Jesus, the Son of God, the Friend of sinners.
“there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
To repeat our assertion, we believe that this friend is the blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It shall be ours, first, to prove, this morning, the fact that he sticks closer than a brother; then, as briefly as we can, to show you why he sticks closer than a brother; and then to finish up by giving you some lessons which may be drawn from the doctrine, that Jesus Christ is a faithful Friend.
We assert that CHRIST IS “A FRIEND THAT STICKETH CLOSER THAN A BROTHER.” And in order to prove this from facts, we appeal to such of you as have had him for a friend.
You fell in Adam; did he cease to love you? No; he became the second Adam to redeem you. You sinned in practice, and brought upon your head the condemnation of God; you deserved his wrath and his utter anger; did he then forsake you? No!
And at last he arrested you by his grace, he humbled you, he made you penitent, he brought you to his feet, and he forgave you all your sins. Since then, has he left you? You have often left him; has he ever left you? You have had many trials and troubles; has he ever deserted you? Has he ever turned away his heart, and shut up his bowels of compassion? No, children of God, it is your solemn duty to say “No,” and bear witness to his faithfulness. You have been in severe afflictions and in dangerous circumstances; did your friend desert you then? Others have been faithless to you; he that eateth bread with you has lifted up his heel against you; but has Christ ever forsaken you? Has there ever been a moment when you could go to him, and say, “Master, thou hast betrayed me?” Could you once, in the blackest hour of your grief, dare to impugn his fidelity?
17 “When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the Last Day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. 26 And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
32 When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. 34 He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Jesus was deeply moved again as he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, because it has been four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone.
Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 The man who had died came out with his feet and his hands bound with strips of linen and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus told them, “Loose him and let him go.”
John 11:17-27, 32-45
In fact, the miracle described here ranks as one of his greatest—besides raising himself from the dead. And this leads us to declare:
What a Friend We Have In Jesus
Lazarus died. Grief and sorrow took stage. Mary and Martha had broken hearts. They needed comfort from a true friend. Apparently, they had plenty of friends. You can always tell how influential a person is by the number of people that show up at their funeral.
He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.” Isn’t this amazing? When we talk about Jesus, we are talking about true God—the one who existed before the beginning of the world; who created all things, crushed the Egyptians, split the water, walked on the water, calmed the water. We are also talking about true man. Jesus knows Calvary’s cross is only about two miles away and two weeks away. It’s mind boggling for us to imagine Jesus thinking about anything else. He had enemies to face, disciples to teach and prepare himself! Yet, he took time to talk with Martha and be with Mary. Jesus was there! Jesus is a true friend indeed! Yes, What a Friend They Had in Jesus!
Our God is full of wonderful surprises! Who would have imagined the creator of the universe would become our friend! This is indeed an unexpected change. We must cherish this doctrine with deep honor and respect.
God set His favor and affection upon us while we were still His enemies. He sent His only Son from heaven to enter time and space, to take on human flesh, to bear our guilt on the cross, to die as our substitute, to rise from the dead and to prepare a place for us, all while you and I were still dead in our sin. He sent His Spirit to breath life in us while we were still spiritual corpses
“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs he bears.
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”
Trust no complimentary friend; rely upon the man who giveth you real tokens worth your having, who does for you deeds to show the truthfulness of his heart. Such a friend—and such is Jesus—”sticketh closer than a brother.”
If you love somebody that is lovable, anybody can do it. But if you’re able to love the unlovable, I think that is true love. That’s what the definition of love is, love the unlovable. When Jesus loves us, I don’t think Jesus sees the lovable quality within us, and that is not the reason why he loves us. I believe that Jesus sees everything inside of us, all our weaknesses, shortcomings and ugliness within us even. And yet he loves us. And often I think that that is a miracle. God loves me even though he sees all about me and he still loves me. That’s a miracle.
You shall be the envied of all wise men, for you shall be the beloved of the Lord; and your pathway, if it be not always smooth, shall be always safe, for Jesus never leaves his friend, and he will never leave you, but he will keep you even to the end. May this be my happy case and yours. Amen
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