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THE SINNER’S FRIEND
Intro: Webster’s defines “friend as a favored companion.” Thank God for our true friends! Aristotle was once asked, “What is a friend?” He replied, “A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” I am grateful to the friends that I have made as I have traveled through this life. The Lord has allowed my life to be blessed by my having enjoyed the friendship of some very special people. Many of them sit in this very room this morning!
However, there is a Friend Who is more special that any other I have ever met in this life. His name is Jesus and I do not call Him my Friend, but He calls me His. Think about that for a minute. If the President were to call me his friend, he has raised me to his level. However, if I presume to call him my friend, I have not elevated him at all, but I have brought him down somewhat. It is one thing for me to sing “What A Friend I have In Jesus. It is quite another when Jesus says that He has a friend in me! There is a vast difference between the two!
As I read my Bible, I can find several places where God and Jesus referred to certain ones are their friends. For instance, in the Old Testament, God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend, Ex. 33:11. Abraham is called the friend of God, 2 Chr. 20:7, James 2:23. Abraham’s seed, the faithful of Israel, are called the friends of God, Isa. 41:8. In the New Testament a man named Lazarus is called a friend by Jesus, John 11:11. In our text, the disciples are called Christ’s friends. Even more amazing is the fact that one of the charges His enemies made against Jesus was that He was a “friend of publicans and sinners”, Matt. 11:19. But, even this makes sense against the backdrop of Matt. 26:50. In that verse a man named Judas is leading an army to arrest Jesus and the Lord calls this Judas “friend.
This morning I want to talk about this man Jesus, Who is The Sinner’s Friend. I believe that these verses reveal some ways in which His friendship toward you and me can be readily seen. Let’s take a look at these ways that we can know that Jesus is our Friend, as we think about the subject: The Sinner’s Friend.
I. v. 13 HIS FRIENDSHIP IS SEEN IN HIS SACRIFICE
A. It Was Voluntary The statement, Lay down his life, indicates a voluntary act. No man “murdered Jesus” or took away His life against His will. He voluntarily gave up His life on the cross. He makes this clear by several statements that He made during life and during death: John 10:18; John 18:37; Matt 27:50.
B. It Was Vicarious The word vicarious means “performed or suffered by one as a substitute for another or to the benefit or advantage of another.” Jesus tells us in this verse that His life was being given up “for his friends. In other words, His death was not for Himself, but it was for others. Isaiah 53:4-6 makes this abundantly clear. When Jesus went to the cross, He was doing so on the behalf of others. It was for those people that He called His friends. Other verses also speak to his truth, 1 Pet. 2:24; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2. Friend, Jesus was dying for you so that you wouldn’t have to go to Hell!
C. It Was Vicious The phrase lay down his life is sanitary on the surface. It doesn’t nearly convey the depths of suffering that Jesus endured when He gave up His life for us. It is only by looking at several verses throughout the Bible that picture begins to become clear that He paid a terribly high price when He did for us.
1. Betrayed by Judas and deserted by the disciples - Matt. 26:47-56
2. Beaten by the Temple guards - Luke 22:63-64
3. Rejected by the very people He came to save - Matt. 27:17-25; John 1:11
4. Scourged - Matt. 27:26 (Ill. Furrows - Psa. 129:3)
5. Mocked by the soldiers and crowned with thorns - Matt. 27:26-29
6. Beard plucked from His face - Isa. 50:6
7. Stripped Naked - Matt. 27:35
8. Crucified - Nailed to a cross and hung up to die - Matt. 27:35
9. Absolutely marred beyond belief - Isa. 50:14
When His death is considered from this viewpoint, it takes on renewed significance and glory! He did all of this for you – John 15:13!
D. It Was Victorious There are those who look at the death of Jesus on the cross and cry What a tragedy! Yet, His death was not tragic! His death ranks as one of the most glorious days in the history of this world! When He was nearing the end of His time on the cross, Jesus uttered a cry that proclaimed His death as a time of great victory – John 19:30. He knew that in His death, He had satisfied the righteous demands of God concerning the atonement for sin; Isa. 53:10-12. The fact that God was forever satisfied was proven three days later when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, Matt. 28:1-6. Now, sin could not only be forgiven, but redeemed sinners would live forever!
It is easy to see His friendship in His sacrifice! However, His friendship is also seen on other ways as well.
II. v. 14-15 HIS FRIENDSHIP IS SEEN IN HIS SHARING
These two verses tell us that as our Friend, Jesus shares some special gifts with us.
A. He Shares His Love Jesus reminds us that he loves us! This is a truth that permeates the pages of the Word of God! His love is said to be “everlasting, Jer. 31:3. His love is said to be the motive behind the cross, Rom. 5:8. His love is something from which those who are in it can never be separated, Rom. 8:38-39. Love is said to be the essence of the divine nature, 1 John 4:8. There is nothing in the world like knowing that you are love by God! Of course, this is just like a true friend, Pro. 17:17.
B. He Shares His Life These verses tell us that Jesus not only gave His life FOR us on the cross, but that He also IMPARTS His life to us day by day. This is seen in the great change He makes in every life He touches, 2 Cor. 5:17. He takes us with all our sins and fleshly desires, saves us by His grace and gives us a heart to live for Him! The redeemed sinner literally becomes a vessel in which the life of Jesus Christ lives, Col. 3:3; Gal. 2:20. Every life He touches changes! This is seen countless times in the Gospels. When Jesus passed by lives were forever changed! (Ill. Blind, lepers, deaf, demoniacs, lame, sick, dead, all were miraculously, perfectly and permanently changed by the power of His touch!)
C. He Shares His Lessons Jesus tells His disciples that He has chosen to treat them like friends. He will not keep the truth hidden from them, but He will teach them all things about the Father. This is another blessing of having Jesus as a Friend. He is the revelation of God, John 14:9; John 1:18. He teaches us truth about God, His work and His word. Of course, He does this through the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, John 16:13. He teaches us about God: How to love Him; How to live for Him; How to worship Him; How to praise Him; How to enjoy Him; How to fellowship with Him; How to share Him with others. He shares with us the deepest secrets of divine truth. He holds nothing back from His friends!
If these two ways were all there were to say about how Jesus reveals Himself as our
Friend, they would be enough. However, there is another way that Jesus shows His friendship to you and me.
III. v. 16 HIS FRIENDSHIP IS SEEN IN HIS SALVATION
A. We Are Chosen By Him If you are saved, or if you ever get saved, it will be because the Lord in His grace chose you! After all, the sinner is dead in his sins, Eph. 2:1. As a result, he cannot come to God by his own imitative. Before the sinner can be saved, he must be called to come to the Lord for salvation, John 6:44. That calling is what we call conviction. It is an inner awareness of one’s sins and a certain knowledge that Jesus Christ is the only hope of the sinner, John 16:7-11. When sinners are called to come to Him and they respond in faith, salvation is the result, John 6:37-40. Thank God for a Friend like Jesus Who would take our place on Calvary, and in spite of our sins, love us enough to call us to Himself for salvation! That is what I call a true Friend!
B. We Are Called By Him I salvation werent enough, after He saves us, He calls us into His service, Eph. 2:10. He does this by gifting each of us to fulfill a special place in the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12. His plan for us after salvation is to use us for His Own glory in the world. He desires that we be actively involved in His work. He has promised those who will serve Him that they enjoy His power and His success in His service, John 15:5. His promise is that we will be used to accomplish things that will be eternal in their scope. That is a true Friend Who knows us as intimately as Jesus does, and yet still He chooses to have intimate contact with us, and beyond that, He chooses to use us in His service for the glory of God.
C. We Are Comforted By Him He lets us know that our relationship is further blessed by the fact that He promises us that we will enjoy an intimate relationship with His Father also. Jesus tells us that because of our friendship, we are brought into a place where we will receive answers to our prayers. This is a great comfort as we travel through this world! Because we are in this relationship with Jesus, we are reconciled to the Father, and as a result, we are invited to come before Him and to make our petitions and requests known, Phil. 4:6-7; Heb. 4:16. The idea here is that we do not travel through this world without a Helper and without a Friend, Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5.
Conc: One of the all-time greats in baseball was Babe Ruth. His bat had the power of a cannon, and his record of 714 home runs remained until Hank Aaron came along. The Babe was the idol of sports fans, but in time age took its toll, and his popularity began to wane. Finally the Yankees traded him to the Braves. In one of his last games in Cincinnati, Babe Ruth began to falter. He struck out and made several misplays that allowed the Reds to score five runs in one inning. As the Babe walked toward the dugout, chin down and dejected, there rose from the stands an enormous storm of boos and catcalls. Some fans actually shook their fists. Then a wonderful thing happened. A little boy jumped over the railing, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to the great athlete. Unashamedly, he flung his arms around the Babe's legs and held on tightly. Babe Ruth scooped him up, hugged him, and set him down again. Patting him gently on the head, he took his hand and the two of them walked off the field together.
Once, I was like Babe Ruth. I had nothing to offer. I was used up and wasted by sin. Yet, a man named Jesus leapt across the railing of Glory. He came to this world, lived a perfect life, shed His blood on Calvary, and arose from the dead. All for me! Then the day came when He came to where I was, took my hand in His and saved my by His grace. Now we are walking across the field of this life together, headed toward the dugout! He isn’t ashamed of me! He isn’t disappointed in me! He just loves me and walks with me. That is what I call a Friend! Do you know Him today? You can! If He is calling then you need to answer that call and be saved. Will you do that?