The Best Friend We Can Ever Have: Jesus Christ
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - August 18, 2013
*Friends are great. In the third grade, my best friend was Zach Smith. We caught all the old-west bank robbers together, killed all the bad Indians together, won World War II all over again by ourselves, explored the jungle in the woods behind my house, and rode our bicycles all the way into space.
*We were best friends. But by the grace of God, we can have an infinitely better friend, and His name is Jesus Christ. If you don't know a single soul in this room right now, you can still walk out of here today with the best friend you will ever have. Are you friends with Jesus?
1. Please know that this is God's greatest desire for our lives.
*The God of the universe loves you so much that He wants to be your friend forever! Jesus talked about His love for us in vs. 9, where He said: "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
*Can you imagine how much God the Father loves His Son Jesus Christ? There's no way for us to comprehend that love. And yet, Jesus says that's how much He loves us! Amazing!
*And the Lord's desire is for us to be His friends forever. After Jesus spoke all of these words to His disciples, He began to pray to His Father in Heaven. And John 17 tells us that:
1. Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,
2. as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
3. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
*Later on in His prayer, Jesus said:
20. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
21. that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
23. I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world."
*God's greatest desire for us is that we would live together with Him forever as His friends in Heaven. Jesus loves us. But how can we measure His love?
 We measure it by the distance He came for us.
*Love goes the distance, and nobody went farther for us than Jesus Christ. We have to keep this passage of Scripture in perspective. Jesus was just a few hours away from the cross. But the very fact that He was having a conversation with humans like us is amazing.
*Remember how the Apostle John began His Gospel. John 1:1-4 calls Jesus "the Word". And there John said:
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. He was in the beginning with God.
3. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
4. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
*God the Son Jesus Christ was one with the Heavenly Father in all eternity past. But Jesus came to earth and became a man, because love goes the distance for us.
*Max Lucado noticed an example of Jesus going the distance very early in the Lord's ministry. We find the story in John chapter 2, just after Jesus started calling His disciples. And they walked 90 miles from Jericho to Cana to go to a wedding.
*Max Lucado asked: "Why did Jesus go to the wedding? The answer is found in John 2:2: 'Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.'"
*And Lucado gave this insight: "Jesus wasn't invited because he was a celebrity. He wasn't one yet. The invitation wasn't motivated by his miracles. He hadn't performed any yet. Why did they invite him? I suppose they liked him. Big deal? I think so. I think it's significant that common folk in a little town enjoyed being with Jesus.
-I think it's noteworthy that the Almighty didn't act high and mighty.
-The Holy One wasn't holier-than-thou.
-The One who knew it all wasn't a know-it-all.
-The One who made the stars didn't keep his head in them.
-The One who owns all the stuff on earth never strutted it."
*Then Max made much of the fact that Jesus is the kind of person you want to be around, not puffed up or proud or arrogant, even though He could have been. And Max said: "Jesus could have been all of these (things), but he wasn't. His purpose was not to show off, but to show up. He went to great pains to be as human as the guy down the street. He didn't need to study, but still went to the synagogue. He had no need for income, but still worked in the workshop. He had known the fellowship of angels and heard the harps of heaven. Yet still went to parties thrown by tax collectors. And upon His shoulders rested the challenge of redeeming creation, but He still took time to walk ninety miles from Jericho to Cana to go to a wedding." (1)
*And Jesus came all the way from Heaven to earth for us, because He loves us.
-We measure the Lord's love by the distance He came for us.
 And we can measure it by His death on the cross for us.
*Jesus talked about His death in vs. 13, where He said: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. Let that sink in more than ever today. Jesus died on the cross to pay the debt for our sins. And that was the only way this debt could be paid. There is no other way. And Jesus was willing to die, because of His love for us. So Max Lucado also said: "Nails didn't hold God to the cross. -- Love did." (2)
*The God of the universe loves us so much that He wants to be our friend!
-Are you friends with Jesus? -- This is God's greatest desire for our lives.
2. And it is our greatest decision.
 We must decide to turn to Jesus Christ.
*The Lord shows us what this turning involves in vs. 10. There Jesus said: "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." And in vs. 12, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." And in vs. 14, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you."
*If we are really going to be God's friend.
-We have to turn away from sin.
-We have to turn away from selfishness.
-We have to turn toward obeying God and loving other people.
*This does not mean we won't struggle with temptation, and sometimes we will stumble. James Dobson helps us understand with a story about a missionary in Africa. This missionary was returning to his hut late one afternoon, and as he went in the door, he spotted a huge python on the floor. African python snakes can exceed 20 feet in length.
*The missionary ran back to his truck and got his .45-caliber pistol, but unfortunately, he only had one bullet in the chamber and no extra ammunition. So he took careful aim and shot that snake in the head. The snake was mortally wounded, but it did not die quickly. Instead, it began to frantically thrash around on the floor.
*The missionary ran back out into the yard, where he could hear furniture breaking and lamps crashing. Finally, all was quiet, and the man cautiously went back in. He found the snake dead, but his hut was a wreck. In its dying moments, the python had unleashed all its wrath and power on everything in sight.
*Later, the missionary saw a connection with that spiritual serpent named Satan. He has already been mortally wounded by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But he is still thrashing around like that python. And sometimes he smashes into us. (3)
*We may struggle, and we may stumble. But in the end, we will have victory, if we have turned our life over to the Lord Jesus Christ.
*God wants to be our Friend. But we must decide to turn to Jesus Christ.
 And decide to trust Him.
*This truth flows out of what Jesus said in vs. 13: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."
*Do I really believe that Jesus loves me?
-Do I really believe that He died on the cross for me?
-Do I really trust that Jesus alone can forgive my sins?
*Do I trust that He will meet my needs?
-That He will keep on loving me?
-That He will stay with me?
*Once I was walking on one of the trails in Kiroli Park up in West Monroe. And I saw a message carved into the side of a big oak tree. It said, "Joey loves Amy." It had been there for a long, long time.
*And I wondered if Joey still loved Amy, but I don't have to wonder about Jesus!
-I know that He loves me.
-I know that He loves you.
-And we ought to trust Him.
*In Jeremiah 31:3, the Lord spoke to His prophet about the love He has for His people. There the Lord said: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
*Hebrews 13:5 says this to Christians: "Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'''
*We don't have to wonder about Jesus!
-He will always love us.
-He will never leave us.
-And we ought to trust Him.
*God wants to be our Friend. But we must decide to trust in Jesus Christ.
 And decide to talk to Him.
*This is part of the lesson in vs. 16, where Jesus told His followers: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
*Friends talk to each other, and God surely wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to bring all of our needs to Him. And we start by bringing our greatest needs to Him:
-The need for forgiveness.
-The need for eternal life.
-The need for a personal relationship with God.
*So Romans 10:6-13 says:
6. . . The righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?''' (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
7. or, "'Who will descend into the abyss?''' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8. But what does it say? "The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart'' (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9. that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
11. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.''
12. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
13. For "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.''
*God wants to be our friend. But we have to turn to Him, trust in Him, and talk to Him. God is not going to force us to do these things. We must make the choice. The decision is up to us. Are you friends with Jesus? -- This is our greatest decision.
3. And it's our greatest delight.
*As Jesus said in vs. 11: "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
*Our greatest friend Jesus Christ is the author of everlasting, overflowing joy in our hearts. But notice that the joy only comes when we tune in to what Jesus has to say to us. Again in vs. 11: "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
*Where are we going to find joy in this often crazy, heartbreaking world?
 When we listen to Jesus, we can find joy in the help He gives.
*Verse 12 speaks to us about this help, because here Jesus said: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." Here we see love, and love helps. Love lends a helping hand. It can come through Christians who love us or through the Hand of God as He uses His angels, His Word, and His power. We can find joy in the help Jesus gives.
 And in the honor He gives to us.
*Verse 15 speaks to us about this honor, because here Jesus said: "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."
*Church: It's an honor to be a servant of God. But what a promotion we see here. Jesus always moves us up to better things! We can find joy in the honor Jesus gives to us.
 And in the eternal home He gives to us.
*Verse 16 reminds us that the things we have in Jesus will last forever. Here Jesus tells His followers: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
*When it comes to fruit, I like bananas. But my problem is that the bananas in the store are almost always green. And I just cannot eat green bananas, so I always have to wait.
*And then comes the day when that banana is just right. But you have to eat it right then, because that banana is only going to stay ripe for about 15 minutes. After that it starts to get mushy and brown. But the fruit Jesus is talking about in vs. 16 is going to remain, not just for 15 minutes or 15 years. The fruit Jesus is talking about will last forever! And the fruit is people like you and me, -- people that we help lead to Jesus Christ. And the life they find in Him will last forever. What a joy! What a delight!
*When Christian author, Josh McDowell was going to seminary in California, his father went home to be with the Lord. And Josh's thoughts turned to his mother who had died years before. Josh was not sure of his mom's salvation, and he got depressed, thinking that she might have been lost. Was she a Christian or not? That question obsessed Josh. And he prayed: "Lord, somehow give me the answer so I can get back to normal. I've just got to know."
*It seemed like an impossible request. Two days later, Josh drove out to the ocean. He walked to the end of a pier to be alone. But there sat an old woman in a lawn-chair, fishing. "Where's your home originally?" she asked. "Michigan -- Union City," Josh replied. "Nobody's heard of it. I tell people it's a suburb of." "Battle Creek," interrupted the woman. -- "I had a cousin from there.
*Did you know the McDowell family?" she asked. Josh was stunned and answered, "Yes, I'm Josh McDowell!" "I can't believe it," said the woman. "I'm a cousin to your mother."
*"Do you remember anything at all about my mother's spiritual life?" asked Josh. "Why sure. -- Your mom and I were just girls, teenagers, when a tent revival came to town. It was the fourth night. We both went forward to accept Christ." Josh shouted, "Praise God!" (4)
*He was delighted!
-Delighted To know that his mom and dad were together.
-Delighted that he would spend eternity with them.
-Delighted about the help He got from God.
-And delighted about His Best Friend Jesus Christ.
*You can walk out of here today with the best friend you will ever have. Just call on the Lord to save you. You can do that in a moment when we go to God in prayer.
*And if Jesus is already your best friend, praise God! And do everything you can to help more people know the Lord.
*Would you please bow for prayer.
(1) "When God Whispers Your Name" by Max Lucado - www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/upwords/upwords-week-of-november-18-24.html
(2) Quote by Max Lucado (Original source unknown)
(3) "When God Doesn't Make Sense" by James Dobson - pp. 194-195
(4) "Our Daily Bread" - Found on Sermonillustrations.com - Topic: Prayer Answered