Friends are our antidote for loneliness. They can be our rescue from anxiety. When we are feeling defeated by this world, they can redirect us to truth and hope. They remind us of that which is praiseworthy in our lives. And sometimes, they just sit with us when words won’t suffice.
Reading John 12:1-2 (yes, I realize I don’t move very fast!), we discover that six days before the Passover…the beginning of the end…a week before His crucifixion…Jesus returned to Bethany for a dinner given in His honor. There would be no more big public displays with signs and wonders. No, in His last week, Jesus chose to spend intimate, intentional time with friends.
I won’t presume to know why Jesus chose to put aside public teaching and healing in the final week of His life and focus on spending time with His closest friends.
Maybe He wanted time to express His deep love for His precious friends. Maybe He just wanted to be with them. Maybe He knew that His last week would include loneliness and anxiety. And maybe, He needed this time to be strengthened by their love.
Martha did what she loved to do, what she was created to do. The Bible very specifically tells us, “Martha served.” No grumbling or complaining. No desire to earn attention or affection. Her deep desire to love others was most easily expressed through her hands and feet. And for this dinner party, her acts of service converted into a beautiful, loving act of worship for the One she knew to be her Lord.
I have more than one friend who resembles the Martha in this passage. They never draw attention to their acts of service. In fact, one of them jokingly says she is a “liver” in the body of the church. Why? Because most often, you can’t see her work but her service is absolutely crucial to the health and life of the church. Time and time again, I’ve needed these “Martha” look a-likes to encourage me, speak truth to me, pray for me, and step in with organizational skills…an area where I fall very short.
Perhaps this is why I feel Jesus not only wanted to be with His friends, but needed time with them. I think that loving our friends and being loved by them is essential to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
I know friendship can be complicated and it can be messy at times. Friends stretch us to learn how to love unconditionally and freely forgive. And often we find ourselves needing to ask for their forgiveness. But they are worth the effort. They are of immeasurable value on this journey through life.
For those who long for loving, loyal friends, my encouragement is to find a Bible study or a Christ-centered small group. That is where new friends eventually became my closest friends.
Thoughts to ponder:
How do I worship Jesus through acts of serving?
Have I expressed gratitude for the gift of friendship?