Becoming a friend with Jesus

Dec 10 2020

“Your dear friend is sick” (John 11:3). Jesus received this message from Mary and Martha concerning their brother, Lazarus.

Two words caught my attention — “dear friend” (ὃν φιλεῖς: often translated word-for-word from the Greek as “the one you love”). Jesus dropped what he was doing and willingly put himself in danger to help his friend.

The issue here is a question of friendship formation. How many people can interrupt your life? Of those, who will you face danger to help? Frankly, there probably are not that many people. And that depth of friendship generally takes years to develop.

The Gospel of John does not develop Jesus’ friendship with Lazarus. We are simply given this introductory statement and then a story that serves as a plot turning point in the Gospel. What we know is that Jesus was willing to be interrupted and face danger for his friend.

So how does one become a dear friend? Human friendships develop around shared space, shared time, shared interests, and shared respect. Proximity of space and time alone, however, does not create deeper connections.

So what were Jesus’ and Lazarus’ shared interests and shared respect as well as their shared time and space? The SpendaYearwithJesus storyline suggests an activity.

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